What's Wrong with Josh Beckett?

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What's Wrong with Josh Beckett?
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Red Sox ace Josh Beckett got rocked—again—Friday night, allowing nine earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to the Yankees, marking the third time he’s given up seven earned runs or more in a start this season.

Through seven starts (41 innings) in 2010, Beckett is 1-1 with a despicable 7.46 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.

Two of his three quality starts have come against Kansas City and Baltimore, both of which are in the bottom four in runs scored among A.L. teams. Beckett’s beat downs have come against the Rangers, Blue Jays and Yankees (twice), which on the surface might explain some of his troubles. Still, the former World Series MVP shouldn’t be this bad.

So what should Beckett owners do?

This Insider says hold him—for now. Here’s why:

Beckett’s unusually high .365 BABIP explains his .311 BAA and sky-high WHIP. His current strand rate (56.9 percent) is a ridiculously low number, one that is sure to approach Beckett’s career mark of 71.5 percent by season’s end.

His 4.47 FIP is three full runs lower than his current ERA, which also points to tough luck.

The factors Beckett can control, however, aren’t necessarily encouraging. His strikeout rate (7.46) is down from his career mark of 8.51. Likewise, his usually stellar walk rate (2.76 career) currently sits at 3.51.

Beckett’s average fastball velocity is down to 93.5 MPH this year from 94.7, 94.6, 94.3 and 94.1 MPH in season’s past. This gradual decline isn’t as concerning. In fact, it’s to be expected.

What’s most discouraging is Beckett’s curveball use (or lack there of) so far this season.

Since joining the Red Sox in 2006, Beckett’s yacker has accounted for nearly one-fourth of the pitches he’s thrown. In 2010, however, he’s tossing his curveball just 18.7 percent of the time.

This is worth keeping an eye on.

Beckett’s struggles thus far have relegated him to spot-start status in fantasy leagues, as he can’t be trusted with starts against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Phillies on the horizon.

Despite this, keep in mind fantasy baseball is all about value. Dumping a pitcher of Beckett’s caliber at this point would not be wise. In fact, Beckett, who owns a career 2.96 ERA during the month of September (a.k.a the fantasy playoffs) is a decent buy-low option for the audacious fantasy manager.

Beckett, who turns 30 on Saturday, should become more valuable as his luck begins to even out, though his upcoming matchups will make this an especially tough task. If you can afford to stash him away until he turns the corner, do so. Just don’t rely on him anytime soon.

FBI Forecast: 190 IP, 13 W, 170 K (8.05 K/9) 4.60 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

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