In the last post, the Fan made the case that Cole Hamels is just as good this year as ever despite his 7-10 record indicates. Josh Beckett, on the other hand, is not faring well this year and you have to wonder after he gave up six runs in 6.1 innings on Thursday night against the Angels, what is going wrong with him. He has missed significant time to the disabled list this year and perhaps he isn't physically right still. Whatever the case may be, he's not having fun these days.
On the surface, Beckett looks good. His K/9 are down slightly but are still impressive at 8.1. His walks are up slightly. But there are a couple of keys to Beckett's problems. First, he can't seem to avoid the big inning. Thursday night was no exception. He was sailing along until the sixth inning when he gave up four runs. He gave up two the following inning before he was taken out of the game. The game before that, the Yankees touched him for five runs in the fifth inning.
One statistic that bears out his problem is a stat called leverage. The statistic looks at game results and measures how well a player did in tough situations (close games, late innings). In Beckett's career, he has given up an OPS against of .783 in those situations. Considering the tension involved, that's a good figure. This year, in high leverage situations, his OPS against is .963.
The other standout feature for Beckett this year is his line drive percentage. His career average is 19%. This year it's at 23%. When your line drive percentage increases by 4%, they you are getting knocked around a bit.
The sample size for Beckett this year is small because of the injuries. So it is hard to say if Beckett has really fallen off his game. Next year, when he gets another full year of starts, should be telling. But in Boston, amid all the hype and hoopla, everything is magnified and Beckett's struggles are glaring. You can point to a lot of injured Red Sox this year and measure them all in games lost. But probably the biggest factor between past years and this year is not having Beckett keeping the team in the game when he has been unavailable and when he has been available.