26 February 2010
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Josh Beckett is considered by many to be an elite pitcher in the majors, but he has not been able to post elite numbers consistently throughout his career. Instead, Beckett has become a bit like Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde... On odd-numbered years he has been outstanding, but on even-numbered years he has been mediocre.
2002, 2004, 2006, 2008: 43-37 (40 W%), 160 IP/season, 4.23 ERA, 149 K/season
2003, 2005, 2007, 2009: 61-29 (54 W%), 183 IP/season 3.39 ERA, 178 K/season
Determining the reasons for these unique splits isn't easy, but there are some notes worth mentioning. In 2008, we learned that Beckett was battling an oblique injury that limited him to 27 starts and a 4.03 ERA. In 2006, Beckett coughed up 36 homers in 33 starts, 26 in the first half. He still won 16 games, but it's possible the adjustment to more potent AL lineups took a while...
With eight years of data, it's hard not to assume the worst for 2010 - an even year - but 2010 is also a contract year for Beckett. The last time Beckett pitched for a contract, he posted career numbers (at that time) in starts (29), wins (15) and strikeouts (166).With one more payday on the horizon and four three other potential "aces" in the rotation in Lester, Lackey and Matsuzaka, Beckett should have all the motivation in the world to pitch well.
The key will be staying healthy. In 2007, the Sox were able to squeeze in some extra days of rest for Beckett down the stretch and he went on to win 8 of his last 9 games, including all four postseason starts, while posting a 1.20 ERA in October. With good pitching depth (for now), the Sox should be able to keep all their starters fresh for October and that could enable all of them to have very solid stats in 2010.
So what can we expect from Jekyll & Hyde in 2010? My guess is is breaks the even-year "curse" and has a very good season, but he won't have another "career year."
Bottom Line Projections: 31 GS, 202 IP, 18-10, 3.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 196 SO
Make your predictions using the form below. Just plug in your email address and the stats you expect to see from Beckett this season and hit the SUBMIT button. We'll give away some prizes during the offseason for those who come closest...