Monday, April 6, 2009

Josh Beckett's first start of the season

There's a chance Josh Beckett might not have a great start against Tampa Bay tomorrow. It's Opening Day. It happens.

Brandon Webb surrendered six earned runs in four innings today. Cliff Lee gave up seven earned runs in five innings. CC Sabathia saw the Orioles score six runs against him as he failed to survive the fifth inning.

Even John Lannan gave up six runs in three innings!

(Wait, that might not fit here. Never mind.)

Check out these pitching lines:

* 4 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
* 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
* 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
* 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
* 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K

What you've just seen are Josh Beckett's last five season-opening starts -- in order from most recent to least recent.

Last year's rough outing might not surprise you; Beckett had a 4.67 ERA on May 18 and a 4.34 ERA as late as Aug. 17. He just never showed the same form he'd shown as he dominated the playoffs the previous year.

But look at the second line -- sure, he only gave up one earned run, but he walked four hitters and threw 94 pitches despite being liefted in the sixth. It was effective, but it sure wasn't ace-like.

Over his next four outings, though, he walked just three total hitters -- and struck out 23. Not coincidentally, he went 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA. He finished that season with 20 wins and a 3.27 ERA and torched the Angels, Indians and Rockies en route to a World Series ring.

We can't know now what Beckett will do against the Rays on Tuesday. But whether he throws a two-hit shutout or gets shelled, we still won't know what it bodes for the coming season.

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