In a best-of-five series, no team wants to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ace Clayton Kershaw may be the best pitcher on the planet. The two-time Cy Young winner arguably should have a third, but R.A. Dickey came out of nowhere with an unbelievable season.
The Dodgers No.2 pitcher would be an ace on most teams. Former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke recently lost a streak of 22 consecutive games allowing two or fewer earned runs.
The No. 3 pitcher on the Dodgers has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball over the last two years. Since Hyun-Jin Ryu broke into the league last year, he has been as steady as they come, always hovering around a 3.00 ERA.
If you look at the numbers, Josh Beckett has outpitched Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu this year. After a rocky first outing against Detroit back in April, Beckett has been nothing short of spectacular for the Dodgers.
The 34-year-old was acquired by the Dodgers in the infamous trade with the Red Sox two years ago. He was considered a salary dump, but pitched very well in his seven starts with the Dodgers in 2012. He allowed 14 runs in those seven starts and posted a 2.65 ERA in September, giving fans reasons to be optimistic headed into 2013.
To call 2013 a nightmare for Josh Beckett would be an understatement. Beckett struggled out of the gate, and the Dodgers only won one of his eight starts on the year. His last start was May 13 against the Nationals, where Beckett suffered a groin injury that placed him on the DL. When his groin recovered, Beckett had tingling in his hand and arm, and doctors had to remove a rib to take pressure off his nerve.
Many thought that was the end of the line for Beckett, and the Dodgers brought in Paul Maholm as a safety net in case Beckett couldn’t fulfill his duties as fifth starter in 2014.
Beckett has been marvelous so far in 2014. Despite a 4-3 record, Beckett has a 2.35 ERA, which is fourth lowest in the National League.
Beckett allowed four runs in four innings in his first start against Detroit, but responded with back-to-back five inning shutouts against San Francisco and Arizona in which he only allowed three hits combined. Beckett has allowed 0 runs in five of his 12 starts this year, including the lone no-hitter of the season against Philadelphia.
Josh Beckett starts are comparable to sausage being made. When things aren’t going right for Beckett, fans in attendance can grab a Dodger Dog in between pitches. It always seems like it’s a tedious start, but then you look up and Beckett still hasn’t allowed a run.
The process might be ugly, especially after watching Kershaw and Greinke on the hill. However, Beckett is providing great results for the Dodgers. The Dodgers are only 5-7 in Beckett starts, but Beckett is doing more than his share.
According to the OC Register’s Pedro Moura, Beckett’s newfound success can be attributed to A.J. Ellis’ torn meniscus. When the Dodger catcher went down with an injury, he compiled data about Beckett’s outings and found that batters do not hit Beckett’s curveball.
In 2009, Beckett threw his curveball 25.5 percent of the time, the highest of his career prior to this year. He threw his fastball about 60 percent of the time that year, but could hit 95 on the gun.
This year, Beckett’s velocity is down on his fastball, as is normal with older pitchers. He only throws his fastball about 35 percent of the time now, but the big difference is his bender. Beckett is throwing his curveball 31.1 percent of the time this year, and is getting tremendous results.
Beckett is fourth in the National League in ERA and eighth in WHIP, ahead of all of his fellow Dodgers starters in both of those categories. A year ago he was having a rib removed due to nerve damage, and this year he is one of the top pitchers in baseball. Beckett has to be a frontrunner for comeback player of the year and has definitely been the biggest surprise for the Dodgers in 2014.