Boston, MA, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto rounds third base after hitting a home run off Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett at Fenway Park. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
The Red Sox thought they had some sure things in their rotation this year. That, uh, didn't quite work out.
Josh Beckett left Wednesday's game to a chorus of boos. Geovany Soto hit the Rangers' third home run of the day, and before he was around first, there were boos. There is still someone in Fenway Park right now, booing the crap out of Josh Beckett, wishing they had brought a Clif Bar because they're a little hungry, but booooooo, you suck, Josh Beckett, and this is worth it.
It turns out this is one of those bad Beckett years, like 2006 and 2010. His strikeouts are down, but not that much. His home runs allowed were down before Wednesday, but now he's right at his career average of allowing a home run every nine innings. But for whatever reason, Josh Beckett's bad years rise out of the earth after a dormant period like cicadas, ruining the crops.
It's not fair to pin the Red Sox' disappointing season entirely on Beckett, but as a face of the struggles, he'll do just fine. The Red Sox were supposed to have question marks in the rotation, but they were also supposed to have some pitchers they could count on. Josh Beckett was supposed to be a pitcher the Red Sox could count on. He sort of is! Beckett has been very, very reliable this season, in a way. Just not in the way Boston was hoping. And that goes for Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, too -- all three have been different shades of bad this year.
From this February:
The Red Sox' offseason had a lot of "Okay, the Red Sox have Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz, now who can they get?", but it's worth a minute to step back and realize that the rotation might be even sketchier than we thought. Beckett is an oft-injured pitcher in iffy condition whose peripherals don't always line up with his runs-allowed totals, and who is often featured in spring-training articles that use the word "contrite." And he's the known quantity.
There was always something a little weird about the idea of the Red Sox assuming there was cost certainty with the front three of their rotation. Of the three, only Lester seemed to be without substantial risk -- and now he's having the worst season of the three, with the second-worst ERA from any pitcher who made a start for the Red Sox this year, behind only Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The Red Sox entered this past offseason thinking that Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz were their givens, their pillars. You knew what you could count on from those guys, so a little risk in the back end of the rotation was acceptable. They took risks with Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront, building a rotation from internal options.
This coming offseason? It's all risk. Every single pitcher. Bard exploded. Doubront has been promising at times. You have to expect Lester to bounce back. But where the Red Sox entered last winter thinking they had some sure things, this offseason they'll have even fewer.
It's not like I have a suggestion, either. Just a writer shrugging his shoulders and slowly backing away. The first thing that pops into my head: an out-of-nowhere, stunning, Michael Pineda-type trade. But seeing what happened to the actual Pineda trade, that's probably an awful comp to bring up.
For the rest of the season, until he turns everything around, Beckett will hear boos. He didn't sign up to be the spokesperson for the Red Sox' lousy pitching, but he was drafted into it. He's been around the longest. And he's heard the boos before; he can take it. Not sure the Red Sox can take it for much longer, though. Of all the teams looking to fill holes this offseason, none of them will be scrambling to fill them quite as frantically as the Red Sox. They had risks in the rotation coming into the season, and everything just got worse from there.