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The real reason Josh Beckett is 4th in the Red Sox’s pitching rotation

Posted by Andy on March 28, 2011

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe has theorized that the Red Sox have held Josh Beckett back until the 4th game of the season because he has historically pitched poorly against the Texas Rangers, against whom the Red Sox open the season with a 3-game series.

Indeed, Beckett's numbers against the Rangers are among the worst of his career:

Milwaukee Brewers 4 84 3.00 .338 .393 .649 1.042 .400 190
Toronto Blue Jays 14 360 2.00 .281 .359 .558 .918 .299 156
Cincinnati Reds 3 64 3.75 .310 .365 .500 .865 .375 144
New York Yankees 22 595 2.22 .290 .358 .483 .841 .328 137
Minnesota Twins 4 106 3.50 .276 .314 .520 .835 .301 132
Texas Rangers 7 185 3.45 .292 .332 .497 .829 .341 132
Arizona Diamondbacks 6 161 3.80 .282 .327 .477 .804 .349 125
Chicago White Sox 8 214 3.47 .289 .344 .433 .777 .365 120
Chicago Cubs 4 100 2.11 .267 .333 .444 .778 .299 119
Colorado Rockies 6 161 2.40 .277 .335 .432 .768 .308 117
Cleveland Indians 7 183 4.20 .244 .306 .440 .746 .280 109
Oakland Athletics 8 218 2.67 .255 .318 .398 .716 .315 103
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/28/2011.

These are the clubs with the higher tOPS+ against Beckett, which is a split of his personal OPS+ against broken out by team.

In fact, of his 246 career starts, his two starts against Texas last year were the 20th- and and 33rd-worst Game Scores of his career.

Abraham surmised that if not for the opening series against the Rangers, Beckett would have been the #2 starter this year.

7 Responses to “The real reason Josh Beckett is 4th in the Red Sox’s pitching rotation”

  1. DiamondDave13 Says:

    Someone was listening to Toucher & Rich this morning...very good. The trouble with this theory is that if after 10 season he still needs his "confidence" boosted by pitching against an inferior team...well then he and the Sox are in far more trouble than most expect.

  2. Doug B Says:

    sounds rediculous unless there is more to back that up than just 7 starts worth of stats. (R/L splits or something at least).

  3. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Maybe he's pitching the 4th game of the season because he's the FOURTH best starter on the Red Sox, behind Lester, Buchholz, and Lackey; but the Red Sox aren't going to say that publicly, so they use his poor record against the Rangers as a reason for this move?

    I don't see any harm in putting out out this PR, as it's it's not going to matter after the first time through the rotation.

  4. John Autin Says:

    Just a hunch, but it does sound like a PR / motivational ploy to me.

    For one thing, the Red Sox know that 7 games spread over 5 years is not a meaningful sample, especially considering personnel turnover in that span; for instance, Beckett was rocked by Texas in a 2007 start, but Mike Young is the only player Beckett faced that day who is still with the Rangers.

    Furthermore, in the midst of that struggle, I see 38 Ks and 11 walks in 42.1 IP. If he matches those rates, the results are likely to much better than they have been.

  5. Frank Says:

    How about instead of 'Well, he pitches poorly against Texas.", management thought "Well, he beats up on Cleveland."

  6. kenh Says:

    Maybe he's done and the Red Sox know it?

  7. Logan Says:

    This isn't a theory, and Toucher and Rich didn't come up with it. It was in the very first article when Tito announced the rotation:

    "As for Beckett, few would've batted an eye if he'd been named the No. 2. Francona said Beckett's in the fourth spot because he feels better about Beckett pitching against the Indians than the American League champion Rangers."