Why the Boston Red Sox Should Make Josh Beckett Their Closer
I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.
After allowing closer Jonathan Papelbon to leave via free agency this offseason, the Red Sox found themselves with a gaping hole at their closer position. Many people thought that Daniel Bard would step into that role, but for whatever reason management has seemed uncomfortable with that idea and prefers using Bard as a starter.
Instead of promoting from within, the Red Sox went out and acquired Andrew Bailey from the Oakland A's to be the closer for the 2012 season. Unfortunately Bailey suffered a mysterious thumb injury at some point during Spring Training and is now out for at least the next three months and possibly longer.
Setup-man Alfredo Aceves was then named as the interim closer, a move that has not gone well. In two appearances this year (both Red Sox losses), Aceves has allowed four hits, three runs and has an ERA of infinity. Yes, really.
Aceves isn't the only Sox pitcher to struggle.
In his first start of the year on Saturday, former World Series MVP Josh Beckett failed to get out of the fifth inning, giving up seven runs on seven hits including five home runs. ESPN reported that a scout at the game said Beckett's start was "the worst he had ever seen him pitch."
Beckett's fastball was topping out around 92 mph, and he simply looked awful. Clearly something has to change. Dating back to last season's collapse, Beckett has an ERA of 7.62 during his last 11 starts.
Beckett is struggling as a starter and the Sox desperately need a closer—it's time to make the switch.
Beckett Has the Mentality to Be a Closer
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Routinely referred to on Boston sports-talk radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub as "The Texas Tough Guy," Josh Beckett has the attitude and the skill set to handle closing.
He is extremely headstrong and has no problem throwing inside, trying to intimidate hitters. Being the closer would give him the chance to channel his attitude in a specific way in order to help restore some of the confidence that has probably eroded over his last 11 starts.
He can swagger, strut and take as much time between pitches as he wants under the bright lights of the closing spot.
Maybe Beckett Can Top 92 Mph as a Closer
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Beckett has obviously lost something on his fastball, but maybe if he knows he only has to worry about one or two innings at most he will be able to get it back up to that next level.
Beckett has had a good curveball in the past, but his bread and butter pitch throughout his career has always been his fastball. If he can't throw if effectively, all the other pitches in his arsenal will suffer as well.
As a closer he would throw less total pitches, so theoretically he would be able to put more into them without having to worry as much about fatigue.
He Might Actually Make It Through the Season Healthy
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Every year there is an annual Josh Beckett injury, whether it be a hurt thumb, a sore back or just some blisters.
If he doesn't have to log starter's innings, Beckett should go through a lot less wear and tear, and won't be as susceptible to injury.
The move would also prevent Beckett from going through a late season swoon due to fatigue and exhaustion.
If He's Responsible for Pitching Everyday There's Less Time for Chicken and Beer
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The Red Sox clubhouse issues at the end of last year were well documented.
No matter how you slice it, one of the primary reasons for those off-field issues was Josh Beckett. Even though Manager Bobby Valentine has already banned alcohol this year, that might not be enough based on how bad things got last season.
If Beckett is essentially on-call everyday, he will have a much shorter leash, and will have less time to get into trouble.
He can't eat chicken or drink in the dugout if he knows he might have to pitch.