Last August, the Red Sox needed to step to the mound at Yankee Stadium and deliver the performance of an ace. He did, but so did his counterpart, A.J. Burnett, and the Red Sox eventually lost in 15 innings.
Though the loss pushed the Red Sox 4 1/2 games out of first place, Beckett's seven scoreless innings had him very much in the running for the American League Cy Young Award.
Since then, though, there hasn't been much to celebrate from Beckett. Consider this:
In his first 22 starts of '09, Beckett was 13-4 with a 3.12 ERA and a .231 opponents' batting average.
In the 29 starts since then, he's 11-9 with a 5.68 ERA and a .281 opponents' batting average.
All of a sudden, those Cy Young discussions seem like ancient history, and that has Red Sox fans worried.
This year, Beckett struggled to stay on the mound, as a back strain kept him on the disabled list from late May to late July. When he was on the mound, he struggled to recapture his former dominance, giving up six earned runs or more in six of his 19 starts. With two starts left in the season, Beckett's record sits at 5-5 with a 5.71 ERA. Making matters worse, he'll be facing the Yankees on Friday, against whom he is 0-2 with an 11.17 this season.
To sum things up succinctly, things are not going well for the former ace this season.
But what about next season? And the season after that? And how about 2013 and 2014?
The Red Sox signed Beckett to a four-year extension early in the year, one that will pay him like he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. To once again join that discussion, he's got a long way to go — but it's far from out of the question.
It wasn't all that long ago that if you needed someone to start a playoff game for you, it was without question Josh Beckett. Go back and watch that 2007 World Series DVD, and you'll see people tell you that Josh Beckett is the best pitcher on the planet without batting an eyelash.
Things have obviously changed, but he's still the same man. His competitiveness is unmatched, and as anyone who's witness his postgame meetings with the media can attest to, he does not take a liking to losing. While this season has been tough to endure for fans, Beckett's not taking it any easier.
Yet, determination and ability are two separate things entirely. Can Beckett recapture the form that allowed him to go 20-7 in 2007 before going 4-0 with a 1.20 in the playoffs? Or are those days behind the 30-year-old?
Share your thoughts below.
Thursday, Sept. 23: Will Ryan Kalish make the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox in 2011?