Like Axl Rose showing up late for his own concerts (yes, I'm old), or Lady Gaga showing us just how shocking she can be—the Josh Beckett act in Boston is wearing thin.
It's wearing thin both on and off the field this season.
Beckett pitched fine against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night. He wasn’t bad, and he most certainly was not great.
He went seven innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. He struck out two and walked three. The Red Sox lost, 5-3.
In a word, he was what Boston has been all season: mediocre.
On the season, he actually has not even lived up to the mediocre label. Beckett is 5-8, with a 4.53 ERA in 101.1 innings pitched.
Beckett is supposed to be Boston’s big-game pitcher. He’s the guy Bobby Valentine should be able to turn to in a situation just like Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. He is supposed to be Boston’s “ace.”
But Beckett is not a big-game pitcher anymore. A big-game pitcher does not walk more hitters than he strikes out when his team desperately needs a win.
In fact, Beckett really has not been a pitcher the Red Sox can turn to in many situations at all recently. He only has one win in his last nine starts (h/t Boston Globe).
You can partially blame run support for that record. On June 8, against the Baltimore Orioles, he went eight innings and only allowed two runs. The Red Sox lost, 2-1.
On June 30, against the Seattle Mariners, Beckett allowed two earned runs in six innings pitched. The Red Sox lost, 3-2.
So Beckett can have those two games. Even with them, his season has been extraordinarily mediocre. Since last September, he’s been downright bad with a record of 6-12 over that time (h/t Boston Herald).
On the mound, Beckett does not seem to intimidate batters at all anymore. But let’s look at some numbers that bear that out.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
According to statistician Bill Chuck, entering Wednesday night batters were seeing just 3.58 pitches per plate appearance, the fewest of Beckett’s career. It’s not that Beckett isn’t throwing strikes (66 percent), but his strikes-looking percentage (24) is the lowest of his career.
And perhaps the most telling stat: “For the fifth straight year his strikeout-looking percentage has fallen (22 percent).”
Hitters just aren't afraid of Beckett anymore.
His off-field behavior has only enhanced just how mediocre to bad he has been.
After the game Wednesday night, Beckett took off before reporters could talk to him. The veteran left it to the rest of the team to take ownership of the loss.
Should Beckett speak to the media after games?
But Rookie Will Middlebrooks stepped up and spoke. Per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe, Middlebrooks told reporters, “It’s tough because we’re playing so hard. We tried to get runs to support Josh. He went out and pitched his butt off.”
Why is a rookie answering for a 12-year veteran? Something just feels very wrong with that situation.
Abraham fired off some tweets about Beckett, after Beckett once again decided to bail on his team:
A-Rod spoke to reporters last night after he broke his hand. Shows you the difference in the organizations and how they view acountability— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) July 26, 2012
And accountability has zero to do with the media. It's how you conduct yourself as a professional.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) July 26, 2012
I agree wholeheartedly with Abraham. Yes, the media in Boston can be very intense—but it all comes with the package of playing for a passionate fanbase.
Last September's collapse and his early-season golf outing have been well documented. He has now added yet another blemish to his season by allowing his teammates to answer for him after a rough loss.
The July 31 trade deadline is approaching. Perhaps the Red Sox will finally close the curtain on the Beckett act in Boston.