Dodgers 2014 profile: Josh Beckett pitches at thoracic park

Josh Beckett is throwing this spring - Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Beckett looks to rebound from a somewhat unusual surgery and provide uncommon depth as the fifth starter.

Josh Beckett entered the 2013 spring campaign with high hopes after working with Sandy Koufax and straightening out part of his delivery. Beckett was particularly excited to have worked with the Dodgers legend after having encountered him previously as a member of the Florida Marlins in 2003.

However that optimism was dashed on the rocks of a malady known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), a disorder that causes blood vessels to be compressed in the area between the clavicle and the top rib, which in turn resulted in Beckett experiencing numbness and tingling in his right hand that prevented him for grasping and pitching a baseball properly.

Beckett underwent surgery in July to correct this issue by removing the first rib on his right side to alleviate the pressure on the blood vessels. Early in spring training, Beckett reports that he no longer has "numbness and tingling in my thumbs anymore" and that he is no longer "tentative" about pitching, stating that he intends "to throw as hard as I can and see what happens."

While Chris Carpenter failed to return from similar surgery, Aaron Cook and Kenny Rogers are example of pitchers who have returned from TOS to varying degrees of success. More recently, Shaun Marcum also had surgery for TOS in July and is attempting to come back from it with the Indians this spring.

Beckett turns 34 in mid-May and is in the final year of his contract, so one would expect that he is a man on mission to show that he is healthy and can be an effective member of a major-league rotation. If the 2003 World Series MVP (with Florida), 2007 ALCS MVP and Cy Young Award runner-up for Boston in 2007, and three-time all-star, can regain a significant amount of his mound effectiveness in 2014, the Dodgers will have a formidable arm slotted into the fifth spot in their starting pitching rotation.

Trivia

Beckett was the first Red Sox pitcher to hit a home run after the inclusion of the designated hitter in the American League, taking Brett Myers out of the park in an interleague game on May 20, 2006. Not content to do it once, Beckett homered again in an interleague contest on June 14, 2009 in Philadelphia, this time versus J.A. Happ.

Contract status

Beckett will make $15.75 million in 2014, the last season of a four-year contract he signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Previous profiles

2013: Odd man in

Stats

Year Age IP BB% K% ERA FIP
2011 31 193 6.8% 22.8% 2.89 3.57
2012 32 170⅓ 7.1% 18.1% 4.65 4.15
2013 33 43⅓ 7.7% 21.0% 5.19 4.66
2014 projections - Age 34 season
Source IP BB% K% ERA FIP
Bill James 153 7.1% 20.5% 3.82 4.09
Oliver 118 7.1% 19.6% 3.80 4.18
PECOTA 90 6.1% 21.0% 3.48 3.90
Steamer 77 7.3% 19.8% 3.77 3.72
ZiPS 103⅔ 7.0% 20.6% 3.73 3.74

2014 outlook

Injury comebacks can always be a bit dicey, but I will guess a 3.73 ERA for Beckett in 25 appearances, all starts, with 111 strikeouts in 140 innings, along with clouting a home run off Cliff Lee in Philadelphia. He will also start and complete the first 4½-hour, nine-inning game in Dodger Stadium history.

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