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Now let’s take a look at the rubber. The Red Sox rotation is made up of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Lester is a proven stud and Buchholz finally came into his own last season but the other three hurlers were a bit of a question mark.
Josh Beckett, once the Red Sox main ace, went from lights out in Boston’s 2007 World Series bid to mediocre last season. Even more disturbing is that Beckett’s average showing came after he signed a very hefty contract extension (4yrs/$68M). Cause for worry? I would think so.
Beckett will be 31 years old for the majority of the 2011 season. He already has two World Series rings sitting at home, so can the drop off in performance be attributed to Beckett’s attitude? Absolutely not. Josh Beckett is a competitor and he more than anyone wants to fix whatever is broken.
Statistically speaking it seems that odd years are Beckett’s best with the Red Sox. When looking at 2006, 2008 and 2010 Beckett had his worst ERA’s (5.01, 4.03, 5.78 versus ’07-3.27 and ’09-3.86), He also had his worst win/loss percentage (.593, .545, .500 versus ’07-.741 and ‘09-.739) and some of his worst WHIPs (1.295, 1.187, 1.535). These statistics in mind 2011 should be a great year for Beckett.
Unfortunately the Red Sox need to factor in age, injuries (Beckett was injured for part of 2010) and the fact that with the exception of 2009, which was a contract year for him, Beckett has been starting fewer and fewer games each season (2006-33 GS – 2010-21 GS). This means Beckett is putting a strain on Boston’s pitching.
Age and injuries typically do not mix well especially when mechanics suffer in order to pitch around pain. Beckett has had shoulder and back issues dating back before and including last year. The Red Sox seem convinced that the problems can be solved through conditioning and that the off-season will provide that opportunity.
I’d argue there would be less need to worry about Beckett’s ailments if Boston had a stronger bullpen to limit his innings. But that’s not always the case.