Beckett's season debut by the numbers

April, 5, 2011
Five things to know for Josh Beckett’s season opener Tuesday night at Cleveland:

The streak stopper -- If we're talking the Josh Beckett of old, there may be no better pitcher to snap the Red Sox's three-game losing streak. In 2009, Beckett was 8-1 following a Boston loss. That was tied with Matt Cain for best winning percentage after a team's loss (minimum nine decisions). If fact, the 2009 Red Sox were 12-3 in Beckett starts following a loss and 25-27 when anybody else started in that situation. Last season, that trend did not continue. Boston was just 5-8 in Beckett’s starts that followed a loss, compared to 6-2 in his other starts.

Facing the Indians -- Getting off to a good start was one of the ideas behind dropping Beckett to fourth in the rotation. Based on the bats that Boston encountered in Arlington, that appears even wiser. Last season, Beckett faced the Rangers twice, allowing four home runs and 13 earned runs in 12 innings (9.75 ERA). Somehow he escaped with a pair of no-decisions. On the other hand, Beckett’s lone 2010 start against the Indians was arguably his best of the season. Facing them at Fenway Park on Aug. 3, Beckett finished with the following line: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K.

An April problem of his own -- Much has been made of Jon Lester’s April struggles, but Beckett is not immune to the same malady. In both 2009 and 2010, he finished April with a 7.22 ERA. The difference? In 2009, he followed that up by going 15-4 with a 3.33 ERA over the rest of the season. In 2010, his ERA was actually higher (7.29) at the end of May and 5.36 overall after April.

Control issues -- Injuries were the main reason for Beckett’s poor 2010 season, but control issues also played a role. He threw a career-worst 62 percent of pitches for strikes. His control problems were most evident at the beginning of counts. His first-pitch strike percentage plummeted from 64 percent in 2009 to 58 percent in 2010. That’s where much of the trouble started. Opponents hit .320 with a .426 on-base percentage after a 1-0 count, compared to .226 BA and .369 OBP in that situation in 2009. According to Inside Edge, Beckett threw two of his first three pitches for strikes 67 percent of the time in 2009. Last season, that fell to 57 percent.

Crushed by lefties -- Left-handed hitters teed off on Beckett in 2010. They hit .310 with 15 home runs and a .566 slugging percentage. Going back to 1975, that’s the fourth-highest slugging percentage by lefties against a Red Sox pitcher (minimum 125 batters faced). According to STATS LLC, only Kyle Snyder (.569 in 2006), Danny Darwin (.592 in 1994) and Jeff Suppan (.626 in 2003) were hit harder by lefties.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information



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