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Josh Beckett’s Evolution Benefiting Los Angeles Dodgers

June 11th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

Every once in awhile, you see a brief flash of the old fireballer.

Josh Beckett will still occasionally rear back and run a fastball in at 93 or 94, but long gone are the days when he was able to average close to 95 on his fastball. As a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Beckett has reinvented and reasserted himself as a key cog in an outstanding Dodger starting rotation.

'Josh Beckett' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Beckett, now 34 and a veteran of 14 big league seasons, is currently 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA. Coming in to the season, very little was expected of Beckett, and there were even doubts as to whether he would be a member of the starting rotation given his health concerns and the signing of Paul Maholm. Beckett, however, has been indispensible, solidifying the back end of the rotation with his stability.

Of course, for a pitcher of Beckett’s age and ability, adjustments need to be made in order to remain successful. For Beckett, that has meant an increased reliance on off-speed pitches.

Early in his career, Beckett relied heavily on his fastball. From 2002 through 2009, he never used the fastball less than 60 percent of the time, topping out at over 74 percent in the 2002 season (according to FanGraphs). Now that Beckett is in his 14th Major League season, things have changed.

Rather than relying on the fastball, Beckett has shifted his approach dramatically. Throughout 2014, Beckett has only used his fastball 37 percent of the time, instead using his curveball with much greater frequency. This shift has been exceptional for Beckett and the Dodgers, as he has delivered six quality starts and is currently in the top-five in ERA in the National League.

Beckett’s FIP (4.09) and BABIP (.234) hint at the possibility of regression, but his xFIP of 3.51 tells a different story. Regardless of the peripherals, Beckett’s results on the field are speaking for themselves, and the Dodgers could not be happier with what they are getting out of someone coming off of major surgery.

Tags: Baseball, Josh Beckett, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, Paul Maholm

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