The art of deception, by Josh BeckettBy
Since there was no Yankees game yesterday — much to my rain-soaked chagrin — it seems appropriate to rag on the Red Sox, and Josh Beckett specifically.
I had planned to watch the Sox/Royals game last night, but a few tasks kept me from tuning in until the second inning, when it was already 3-0 Sox. Great. But, since Josh Beckett was on the mound, I figured it was still worth a watch. I flipped it off after the third, when Mark Teahen and Mike Sweeney blew a first and second, one out situation. I was disheartened once again in the fourth, after watching the Royals score a run, followed by Beckett finishing off the side.
The Red Sox increasing their lead kept me from flipping back to the game. So, in my ignorance, I believed that Josh Beckett pitched a good game. Boy, was I wrong.
First, he only ended up pitching five innings, leaving things to the bullpen for four. They ended up pitching well, but if they end up pitching four innings a game a couple times a week (and they’ve pitched nine so far in two games), they’re screwed. That’s a lot of strain on a bunch of mediocre or sub-mediocre arms.
The next stat that stands out is his strike total. 94 pitches, 46 strikes. Yes, folks, Josh Beckett threw more balls than strikes last night. That was reflected in his four walks, though he did strike out five and only surrender two hits.
It’s that kind of wildness that has many believing that Beckett is not one of the “aces” that were heralded on ESPN in February and March. He may have walked away looking decent last night, but if you’re walking four in five innings, you’re going to give up a few more runs on most nights.
If Beckett doesn’t improve significantly on this wildness (he surely won’t throw 51 percent of his pitches for balls every night), he’s going to run into a familiar problem: taters. Wildness can mean leaving pitches out of the zone and issuing a lot of walks, but it can also mean missing in the zone. And when you miss out over the plate, guys are going to take you deep, especially hitters in the AL East.
Of course, it is the first start of the season, and I may be jumping the gun a bit. However, it’s not like he pitched lights out last year and had an off game yesterday. In fact, yesterday seemed like a mere extension of last season. Here’s to hoping it’s another long one for Beckett and the Sox.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images