Monday, June 11, 2012
Curve carries Beckett back to Miami
By John Fisher
When the Boston Red Sox visit the Miami Marlins on Monday Night Baseball (ESPN, 7 ET), two of the Marlins’ best pitchers will square off. How is that possible?
Josh Beckett goes against Josh Johnson on Monday Night Baseball in Miami.
Real Big Fish
Josh Beckett pitches for the Red Sox, and he’ll face his former team for the first time in his career. His 3.46 ERA is second (min. 400 IP), his 607 K are seventh and his 41 wins are eighth on the franchise’s all-time list.
The Marlins will counter with Josh Johnson, one of the few pitchers ahead of Beckett in the franchise record books -- he’s second in ERA, third in wins and fourth in strikeouts.
Both pitchers have had success in interleague play in their careers -- Beckett is 13-5 with a 3.01 ERA and Johnson is 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the second time this season opposing pitchers enter an interleague game with a .700 or better career win percentage (minimum seven wins) in interleague play. The other instance also involved Beckett, when he pitched against Cliff Lee.
In his sixth start of the season, a loss to the Indians, Beckett allowed seven hits, two walks and seven earned runs and couldn’t get out of the third inning. He had an ERA of nearly six and the team was a season-high seven games under .500.
After the game, Beckett’s press conference focused on the belief that he played golf two days earlier despite being skipped in the rotation with a sore lat muscle.
Since that day, Beckett has made five starts and allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of them, completing at least seven innings in each start. He’s increased the use of his curveball and thrown it in the strike zone more often.
Johnson has also turned his season around after a rough start -- he was 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA through six starts and opponents were hitting .359 against him. In his past six starts, he’s 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA and opposing batters are hitting more than 100 points lower.
He’s done it with his bread-and-butter pitch, the fastball. In his past six starts, opponents are hitting .229 against his heater (.391 in his first six starts) and just .114 in two-strike counts (.284 in his first six).
Marlins Left Side
The Marlins have -16 Defensive Runs Saved this season, meaning their defense has cost them 16 runs, which ranks 20th in the majors. One of their weakest spots has been at SS, where they signed free agent Jose Reyes to replace Hanley Ramirez, in a supposed defensive upgrade.
The Marlins are tied for 28th in baseball with -9 Defensive Runs Saved at SS. Reyes is tied with Derek Jeter for the fewest DRS (-9) among qualified MLB SS.
Only three teams have fewer Defensive Runs Saved at 3B, but here’s a case where the traditional stats and the advanced metrics don’t match up. Miami has the fewest errors and the highest fielding percentage by third basemen this season.
One thing Reyes has done for Ramirez is put him in good spots offensively. Ramirez has 78 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this season -- only five players have more. He had 103 such PA all last season, tied for 200th in the majors.
His 131 PA with runners on base is fifth in baseball -- he had 168 last season, 214th in the majors.