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Josh Beckett Struggling: Will He Return to Form?

As of now, Josh Beckett’s ERA stands at 6.51, while his WHIP sits at a career worst 1.54. After returning from the disabled list, Beckett seemed to settle into a groove, culminating in a spectacular eight inning performance in which he only allowed one run to the Cleveland Indians.

Since that game, Beckett has thrown 9 2/3 innings while allowing four home runs, 13 earned runs, and 21 hits. Ugly, ugly numbers.

Moving forward, should we expect to see the Josh Beckett who dominated the Cleveland Indians and pitched admirably against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (7 IP, 3 ER)? Or should we get used to him giving up bombs, blowing big leads and leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate?

We’ll look at the teams he has recently faced.

The Angels and Indians have both been weak offensive teams this season. In terms of batting average, the Indians rank 27th in the MLB with a .247 team average, while the Angels stand at 19th, with a .256 team average. Both are in the bottom half of the league in hitting.

On the other hand, the New York Yankees (6th) and Texas Rangers (2nd) are both offensive powerhouses as apparent from their .269 and .271 batting averages. Stepping away from stats, simply look at the players.

Of the 18 starters on the Rangers and Yankees, is there anybody you would LIKE to pitch to?

What I’m saying is that Beckett had great success against weaker hitting teams, but against talented offenses he has struggled. Still, Beckett of old had no problem shutting down any team he faced, and watching him on the mound struck fear into the eyes of opponents.

It’s clear that Beckett is no longer the ace of this staff, and if he needs a reminder he can just look at his 6.51 ERA. But, will he ever be considered a co-ace once again?

I think yes. In Beckett’s career, his struggles occur due to a lack of control or movement with his curveball. When this occurs, he becomes very hittable.

Generally, he has to rely on his fastball velocity, movement and location. He has historically used his fastball as his “out” pitch.

Against both New York and Texas, Beckett seemed on the money with his curveball. Although one of his curves was taken deep, it still had lots of movement and was not left hanging over the middle of the plate.

His fastball has been giving him issues. His velocity is down from 95 MPH on average to 93 MPH.

There are two major possibilities as to why Beckett is not throwing as hard as he used to.

First, he is still suffering from back pain, and aggravated his injury in a previous start. Beckett has continuously rejected this notion asked about it, so I do not believe an injury is the source of his woes.

Second, he may be trying to “aim” his pitches, as opposed to just “throwing” them. Pitchers are coached to think of pitching as playing catch with the catcher. When a pitcher starts to “aim” pitches, or focus solely on a release point, accuracy and velocity both suffer.

Pitchers fall into this trap when struggling, and Beckett is clearly having trouble right now.

Luckily, this problem is very fixable. All it takes is one or two solid innings of pitching for a pitcher to regain some swagger and be unafraid to challenge hitters.

Hopefully, Beckett is able to make it to that second inning.

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