2013 in brief: Made eight starts of wildly varying quality before getting hurt, and didn’t pitch after May 13.
2014 status: Under contract for one more year and $15.75m, and is the early leader to be the fifth starter if healthy.
I don’t think any of us really had a good idea of what to expect from Josh Beckett entering the season, did we? In seven starts for the Dodgers after coming over from Boston in 2012, he put up a 2.93 ERA, which is good, but he did it with declining velocity and FIP and xFIP marks that in no way backed that up. I think we knew that he wouldn’t be worth his salary, but we hoped that he’d at least justify his presence.
That… didn’t quite go as planned. Beckett gave up two homers in his first start of the year, then two more in his second, though we were at least distracted by Juan Uribe in the latter game. However, he was just magnificent in his third start of the year…
Earlier today, I merely asked that Josh Beckett “be good“. I think it’s safe to say that Beckett did quite a bit more than that, putting out what was by far his best outing as a Dodger. Beckett pitched into the ninth with nothing but zeroes on the board, striking out nine Diamondbacks and at one point retiring 12 in a row. For a man who had been clearly been the weak link of the rotation thus far, Beckett really made a statement that he belongs.
…but ended up taking a 1-0 loss anyway, because this was the early-season 2013 Dodgers we were talking about. Still, he was so good in that game that it gave us hope for what else might come. That hope was misplaced.
His next time out, he gave up two more homers. Then two more after that, making eight homers in five starts. When he managed to not give up a dinger against the Rockies on May 1, it seemed to be a success, except he lasted only four innings while allowing five runs; after an okay outing against Arizona, he then made it through only three against Washington on May 13… and we never saw him again.
But even his season-ending injuries weren’t simple. At the time, it was reported both that he had a groin injury and that he had “some little stuff going on in different areas,” but after two weeks of rehab it was “tingling in his fingers.” It was then initially reported that he wouldn’t need surgery; the next day it was that he would be shut down for a month; then we heard there was a setback during a throwing session; and finally, on June 29, it was announced he would have surgery and be out for the year. Days later, the Dodgers picked up Ricky Nolasco to take his spot, and Beckett eventually had a rib removed on July 10 in an attempt to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome.
We haven’t heard a whole lot about him since an August 25 report that he was “ahead of schedule,” so he remains an enormous question mark until we get a chance to see him on the mound in camp. Heading into his age-34 season, after years of declining velocity and coming off a major surgery, it’s impossible for any of us to know what to expect. That puts him in a similar situation as Chad Billingsley, really, though Beckett should be ready sooner. Will he be in the rotation, or the bullpen, or somewhere else entirely? It’s difficult to say.
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