USA TODAY Sports
"We've done a good job of putting some depth pieces together, but now it just comes down to working hard during spring training and the starters going out and doing their jobs," said Beckett on the first day of camp at Camelback Ranch.
Sure, spring statistics don't mean much — unless someone is hitting .521, of course — especially in the case of many veteran pitchers, who spend most of their camp working on pitches and fine tuning things, slowly incorporating new wrinkles as they go. But for Josh Beckett, a veteran working on his own tweaked delivery, the results so far have been magnificent.
He has pitched in three Cactus League games, plus two more starts have come on the back fields. In 9⅓ innings, Beckett has allowed just one run and has 11 strikeouts to go with just three walks.
Beckett was one of several Dodgers hurlers to work with Sandy Koufax during the Hall of Famer's 10 days at Camelback Ranch. Beckett was the one with the longest history with Koufax, having worked with him as a member of the Marlins, ten years ago in the spring before their World Series win in 2003.
"You can imagine as excited as I was seeing him this year, already knowing him, you can imagine how excited as I was 10 years ago," Beckett said. "He was only there two or three days, but it was pretty special."
Beckett was quite good for the Dodgers in seven starts after he was acquired in the Nick Punto trade from the Red Sox on Aug. 25. After a 5.23 ERA and 17.2% strikeout rate with Boston, Beckett put up a 2.93 ERA and 20.8% strikeout rate in Los Angeles.
But Beckett also saw his average fastball dip to 91.4 mph in 2012 after never previously falling below 93.1 mph in any season. Perhaps a newer, cleaner delivery honed with the assistance of Koufax will help Beckett.
"A lot of it's just trying to get more straight and direct to the plate. He felt by watching video — and I worked with him 10 years ago, so he has a working idea of where I need to be — I don't think my lines were as direct as they need to be," Beckett said. "I feel like it's going to help me get to where I need to be for the season and put me in a position to use my stuff."
Manager Don Mattingly loves Beckett, and has him unofficially slotted into the third spot in the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. If Beckett continues to pitch anything like he has during spring training, the Dodgers are in for a heck of a year.
Down 3-1 in the series, Beckett's two-hit shutout in Game 5 of the 2003 NLCS against the Cubs, with 11 strikeouts, had a game score of 93, tied for the eighth best game score in postseason history. His five-hit shutout in Game 6 of the World Series that year at Yankee Stadium had a game score of 84, tied for 71st.
Utterly meaningless Saberhagenmteric stat: Beckett's ERA in odd-numbered years is 3.27, and his ERA in even-numbered years is 4.56.
Beckett has two seasons remaining on a four-year contract he signed while with the Red Sox. He will make $15.75 million in both 2013 and 2014.
|2013 Projections - Age 33 Season|
Those projections seem awfully optimistic for Beckett, who has admittedly looked quite good this spring. I'll guess a 3.73 ERA in 28 starts, with 154 strikeouts.
Be sure to guess how you think Beckett will do in 2013. Include ERA, number of starts, and whatever else you wish to guess.