Red Sox are 13-23 in games started by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. They’re 36-26 in games started by anyone else.
It was almost impossible to look at these Red Sox and not believe great things were around the corner. Even with a ridiculous number of injuries, there was still so much talent, so many guys with track record. With Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz at the front of the rotation, the Red Sox seemed to have enough arms to weather almost any storm.
Offensively, they’ve been terrific. Thanks to big years from Cody Ross, David Ortiz and others, the Rangers are second in the Majors in runs. Bobby Valentine has done a nice job constructing a bullpen with the American League’s third-best ERA without injured closer Andrew Bailey. If there was one thing that could be counted on, it was the front of that rotation, especially Beckett and Lester.
But last September’s slump has carried right into this season. The Red Sox are 13-23 in games started by Beckett and Lester, 36-26 with anyone else on the mound. Both of them have worked furiously to get straightened out. Lester had a long bullpen session with piching coach Bob McClure Wednesday afternoon in Texas. McClure said they were working on some fairly basic mechanical issues. However, Lester’s velocity is down from a couple of years ago, and no one seems to know why.
Beckett’s season has been a nightmare from the beginning. He began it by being asked over and over about the fried chicken-and-beer environment of last season. About the time that stuff died down, he was found to have played golf on an off-day when he was injured. He didn’t risk making the injury worse, but image is everything. Besides that, Beckett could have handled the entire thing better.
He blew off the media Wednesday after allowing four runs in seven innings in a loss to the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Red Sox (49-49) still have a chance, but they’re on the edge. Boston is just six games out in the American League wild-card race, but has six teams to pass to get a playoff berth.
At times, both Lester and Beckett have looked like they’re closing to turning their seasons around. Then the wheels fall off again. A wild pitch probably did Beckett in on Wednesday. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, but they can’t afford a real slump, either.