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Well, this has been an interesting stretch of baseball. The Dodgers have slipped to 2 games back in the division. Yasiel Puig is hurt, Hanley Ramirez is stuck in the “hurt little enough to not go on the DL” machine until the end of time, Chris Perez has been utter offal on the mound, but will continue to be employed for reasons unknown.
Oh wait a second.
We know the reasons. This front office defines depth as “replacement level talent keeping down above average, cost effective, youth” and apparently, that “depth” will be maintained at the expense of on the field results. Paul Maholm might just be the 5th worst pitcher on the ballclub right now, which makes you wonder why life must be this difficult.
So wow, what a list of problems. What an incomplete list of problems. One could go on a 2000 word mega post on what’s wrong with the Dodgers, but a thing that isn’t being talked about nearly enough is Josh Beckett, and his future here.
What do we know about Josh Beckett‘s health right now? It’s important to note what’s been ailing him.
We know that Josh Beckett was put on the DL shortly after his July 6th start in Colorado. Don Mattingly made it sound like it wasn’t just the planned rest, and was actually the result of an awkward slide at 3rd base.
We have found out recently that Beckett’s hip injury could possibly be more serious than originally imagined. Apparently:
"Beckett has been dealing with a torn labrum and two cysts in one of his hips. He has recovered from his injury and will start on Tuesday against the Pirates. Beckett believes he will be fine, the injections are helping but we do not know how long that can last until it becomes overwhelming"
Oh hey, look at that. A torn labrum, AND two cysts in one hip! I’m not a doctor, nor will I pretend to be, but having cysts, and a torn ligament in your hip sound like 2 pretty mediocre conditions, especially when you’re a major league pitcher. Back when the Dodgers were in Saint Louis on Saturday night, Beckett was talking about his hip, and I remember him saying something along the lines that his last few starts weren’t great, because of his curveball which is the reason he’s been so good, and he couldn’t really get over the top of it with his hip not being in 100%.
So we saw Beckett in his first game back on Tuesday, hoping that the hip isn’t nearly as serious as it sounds, and what happens? 3 dingers in 3.2 innings, 6 hits, a single game FIP of 12.41, and a single game xFIP which includes regressing the amount of home runs per fly ball to the league average of 5.24. So in short, it was bad.
Is it enough to completely discard Beckett? No, not quite. Beckett has earned the benefit of the doubt thus far, however I haaaate pitchers pitching through pain. It has proven time and time again that you’re not some “super team player tough guy” if you do, you’re more of a “attempted tough guy trying to help the team but really hurting it”.
The cysts and labrum weren’t even the scariest part about that little excerpt from sports injury alert, it’s the last bit. That “we do not know how long that can last until it becomes overwhelming”. Playing the start-to-start game where you don’t know just how well you’ll feel, and whether you’ll be able to make it to the next start seems REALLY RISKY considering the other pitchers on the roster, and knowing that the depth you don’t really have isn’t good enough at all. Beckett makes it sound like at any moment during a start, or between starts, he could break down, and if that alone is keeping Paul Maholm employed, then I breathe the heaviest of sighs in your direction, Ned Colletti.
If you look at the schedule, Haren isn’t scheduled to pitch until August 2nd, where he could not be in the rotation, or on the team any longer, but an injured Josh Beckett, who was already a heavy regression candidate considering his 1.63 run differential between his actual 2.52 ERA and 4.15 FIP continues to trot out there with his hip condition.
You see why the Dodgers absolutely need one more starter, but could probably use 2?
I know it’s easy to complain about Maholm and Perez and Haren and Wright, but I have confidence all of those problems will be fixed. One thing I could not bear to witness, is a very injured Josh Beckett pitching in a crucial game versus the San Francisco Giants in a meaningful September game, or even worse, Josh Beckett reverting to 2013 October Ricky Nolasco in a playoff start, because we all know Beckett probably starts a meaningful game in late-September/early-October. Which is why hoping for Josh Beckett to come through this injury is important. This team isn’t getting 2 SP’s this close to the deadline, and the starting pitcher that does come in will be replacing Dan Haren, and is probably going to be a serviceable #5 starter. Not someone who will take the #4 slot away from Beckett.
We were fine with it before, but throwing Beckett out there every 5th day seems more terrifying than comforting nowadays, and that’s a troubling development.