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Sports of Boston is continuing its week-long preview of the Red Sox starting rotation with its projected #3 starter:
Josh Beckett (6-6, 5.78 ERA, 127.2 IP, 116 K, 45 BB): Even-numbered years have always marred Beckett’s time in Boston, but 2010 was especially bad. Injuries kept him to his lowest total innings, fewest starts, fewest wins and fewest strikeouts since 2002, but that didn’t stop him from giving up the third-most home runs of his career (20). His ERA was the highest of his career. Beckett lost his ace status last season, and he probably won’t say anything to the contrary before the season begins.
But we know that Beckett is supremely self-confident, perhaps cocky even, and he will not take losing that title lightly. And that’s good news for the Red Sox, because they will need a healthy and hungry Beckett for the playoffs, when he takes his game to another level. Beckett wants to prove he’s worth the $17 million the Red Sox are paying him this season, and that should mean another bounce-back year for the 30-year-old.
The only question is whether or not his myriad injuries will keep him on the disabled list again. Recurrent injuries like Beckett’s are impossible to predict. There’s no telling when a certain combination of stress, age and bad mechanics will cause one to flare up. Last season, injuries derailed him after just eight starts. His next start came 66 days later, and by then it was too late for him to regain a pitching rhythm. If it happens again this year, hopefully it comes later in the season, so Beckett will lose starts but not his timing.
The Red Sox rotation went 65-39 last season, which means a little over a third of their games were decided by their inconsistent-at-best bullpen. This resulted in an 89-73 record, their fewest wins since 2006. Experience should generate a few more wins for the starters, and the bullpen has been much improved. This should all translate to another season in which the Red Sox win over 95 games.
It all starts in 12 days.