|Beckett problem still a question|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on May 03, 2009
Scouts don't know how to fix Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. His first start -- 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hs, 3 BBs, 10 Ks and 96 pitches -- against the Tampa Bay Rays hinted Beckett was ready to dominant after a not-so-great season last year.
In his second start, Beckett buzzed Abreu and received a five-game suspension. The right hander hasn't been the same since. He's thrown 15.7 IP over three starts, allowing 18 earned runs. Beckett has struck out 16 but walked 11. His ERA stands at 7.22, his WHIP at 1.81.
Scouts have some opinions about what's going on with Beckett. From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (which I hope survives into Monday):
Scouts who watched him in Thursday's 13-0 loss at Tropicana Field had some interesting theories on his struggles. One is that Beckett's recent suspension for throwing at Bobby Abreu's head might have messed him up because "he needs to get in tight and knock someone down so the batter isn't so comfortable up there." Another scout thought Beckett was too "curveball-happy," while another thought he was "not moving his fastball to different parts of the plate." Yet another said Beckett's release point on his curveball was lower this season.
The truth might lie somewhere in there, but no one knows what's wrong yet. If Beckett's problem were any of the last three, it should be easy to recognize through a methodical study of statistics. If Beckett needs to buzz a hitter, to perhaps regain his aggressiveness of going inside, he or Varitek would've probably figured that out by now.
I haven't seen any of Beckett's starts this season, but it would be reasonable to guess he may have been overthrowing since returning from his suspension. Power pitchers sometimes feel "too strong" when coming back from extended rest. But that's purely speculation.
He's also probably just in a rough patch. His BABIP stands at .388 on the season. Once that bad luck evens out, Beckett should regain his previous form. His velocity doesn't appear to be down. Beckett is striking hitters out. Give him time.