photo © 2009 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)Last night was exactly what I wanted to see from Josh Beckett and it couldn’t have come at a better time than against the New York Yankees in a huge rubber match. In my earlier article I discussed that Beckett had gotten away from his curveball the past few years and saw higher walk rates as a result.
Sunday’s game saw Beckett throw 24 curve balls with great movement and some great control. Seventeen of those curves went for strikes with two on swinging strikes.
He also had good velocity on his fastball, but still down from his levels during his prime. I think the loss in velocity will require his curve to be as effective as it was Sunday. If his curve has an off night his fastball and change up are not enough to work alone.
When the curve is working though Beckett will be effective and last night was a reminder of that. According to Brooksbaseball.net from his first two games we can easily see the difference. On his first start in Cleveland in the very cold temps he had a horizontal break of 6.89 and a vertical break of -8.08. Sunday Beckett saw his curve have a horizontal break of 9.14 and a vertical of -10.10.
That is a big difference and actually quite different from his career. His normal vertical break is -5.6 fromFanGraphs pitch F/x data. It has been increasing, but last night’s curve was the largest average movement of his last three years.
In his Sunday start against the Yankees:
There is some suttle things to notice here. The first is the dip starts around 40-45 feet from home plate in his first start, but Sunday it was largely flat until 35-40 feet from home plate giving the hitter lest time to identify the downward motion. This resulted in more curve balls in the zone instead of below the zone. His horizontal movement also kept him in the zone as well. (images from Texasleaguers.com)
I can’t say if this is something new or he has made a change to his curve, but it obviously worked last night. If he can hit the center of the zone with large breaking curves at will he will have great success even against a lineup like the Yankees.
His next start will be ths weekend against the Blue Jays and could tell us a lot more about this season. If his curve continues to be this impressive we could see a resurgence from Beckett. If not we should probably expect inconsistent results largely hinging on the effectiveness of his curve ball.
Categories: Boston Red Sox