Monday, August 27, 2012
Josh Beckett gets to start over
By Mark Saxon
The last time Josh Beckett faced the Colorado Rockies, he struck out nine batters and got the Boston Red Sox off to a fast start in the 2007 World Series with a Game 1 win. The losing pitcher that day was Jeff Francis, the Rockies starter tonight at Coors Field.
There’s not a lot you can take away from that start, obviously, as Beckett is on a new team, the Dodgers, and the Rockies have turned over their roster completely. He's also 32 instead of 27 and has a 5.23 ERA. In 2007, he was the Cy Young runner-up to CC Sabathia.
But how much will Beckett benefit from getting out of the AL East, the land of small ballparks and big sluggers, and coming to the NL West, a pitching-dominated division?
“You’re moving from the AL East, which is the Blue Jays, the Orioles, the Yankees and the Rays, to the NL West. That’s always good for your ERA,” Beckett’s former teammate, Curt Schilling, told ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd this weekend. “He got a reset and he was badly in need of one.”
Beckett hasn’t made a start as a National League pitcher since 2005. In 106 games for the Florida Marlins, he was 41-34 with a 3.46 ERA. In 194 starts as an AL pitcher, Beckett was 89-58 with a 4.17 ERA.
It pays to have a powerful offense behind you. Beckett had a better winning percentage (.617 to .547) in the AL, but an ERA that was more than a half-run higher (courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info).
Picking their poison
When the Dodgers landed left-handed hitting slugger Adrian Gonzalez (and switch-hitting utility man Nick Punto), they didn’t just make their lineup more dangerous, they made it harder to navigate.
The Dodgers have nearly ideal -- and truly rare -- balance. At the top of their lineup, they have switch hitter Shane Victorino, followed most days by right-handed Mark Ellis, then right-handed Matt Kemp, lefty Gonzalez, righty Hanley Ramirez, lefty Andre Ethier and righy Luis Cruz.
That’s switch-right-right-left-right-left-right. A drill sergeant would love it.
“It’s nice to be able to go back and forth,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It really puts the other guy in a bind unless he has -- and wants to burn -- a bunch of lefties and match up.”
Here’s something else that helps: Gonzalez has a better OPS (.831) against lefties than righties (.809).