Without a doubt in my mind, this is one topic we will discuss a lot over the off-season: will Josh Beckett -- the former ace (see what I did there?) of the Red Sox -- be better in 2011?
The snarky answer from some (many) of you is, "Of course! There's now way he could be worse!" But this is more of a question if Beckett won't just be better, but return to his normal standards.
FanGraphs' Joe Pawlikowski writes that we should expect a better Beckett next season:
Lately Beckett has turned things around a bit. He’s not his dominant self from a few years ago, but that can’t really be expected at this point in the season. But even without top-notch stuff he’s still managed to strike out 28 in his last 25.2 innings, walking just nine in that span. Five of those walks came in yesterday’s six-inning, three-run performance against Oakland. His hit and walk rates, plus his BABIP, are all still above his career averages, signaling a continued lack of command. But he certainly looks better on the mound than he did earlier in the season. It’s an encouraging sign for 2011.
Pawlikowski makes the case -- albeit a not very convincing one -- that Beckett will rebound because that's what he's done in the past after bad seasons. Beckett certainly is the kind of pitcher that doesn't like to be embarrassed and this -- no doubt -- has been an embarrassing season for him, but that isn't enough to convince me that he's going to return to his norms. He will though, I hope, be better (let's shoot for that mid-5's ERA!).
While Beckett does have a few more games to pitch this season, have you seen anything out of him that makes you think 2011 will be better? Is he just too talented of a pitcher to be dragged down by this season? Is his badassness just uncontainable?
Sound off. This is the first of many times we will do so on Beckett.