Red Sox fans are already starting to panic about Josh Beckett. After a fine first start in which he allowed one run in 7 innings, he has gotten progressively worse, culminating in Thursday’s 13-0 whupping at the hands of the Rays in which Beckett allowed 7 earned runs in only 4.2 innings. His ERA now sits at a hefty 7.22.
But the good news is that there is nothing about Beckett’s peripherals to suggest that anything is out of the ordinary. Aside from a slightly elevated walk rate, he looks like the same, near-ace level pitcher he has always been. His groundball/flyball/line drive rates are all within career norms, his K/9 is a healthy 9.73 (career: 8.59), and his homer rate per 9 of 0.94 almost nails on the nose his career rate of 0.95. Overall his FIP (fielding-independent pitching), which approximates what his ERA should be given league averages, is a mere 4.07.
The real culprit here is Beckett’s BABIP, which at .398 is the third worst in the Major Leagues, behind only Justin Verlander and Dana Eveland (both at .408). In other words, Beckett has just had extremely bad luck with balls just happening to land where fielders weren’t.
Take a deep breath, he’ll be fine.