When the Dodgers acquired Josh Beckett back in August 2012 as part of the blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox, many viewed him as a salary dump or “throw-in”. He was coming off one of his worst seasons ever, so a change of scenery was expected to benefit him. Indeed it did.
In 43 innings with the Dodgers (7 starts), he accumulated a 2.93 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 14 walks. His advanced metrics suggest he wasn’t as good as the numbers showed (3.82 FIP, 1.33 WHIP), but it was a nice bounce back from his awful first half with the Red Sox. Despite the Dodgers missing the playoffs that season, Beckett gave them a much needed boost in the rotation, ultimately being worth 0.9 rWAR in the month of September.
Fast forward to the 2013 season, and things began looking grim again. Beckett had a rough month of April, finishing with a 4.75 ERA. On May 15th, he was placed on the disabled list with a groin strain. While on the DL, he experienced numbness in his pitching hand and was eventually shut down. He was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and underwent surgery, ending his disappointing 2013 campaign.
As Spring Training approached for the 2014 season, no one really expected much from Beckett. He was as big of a “question mark” as possible. After proving to be 100% healthy in March, he was inserted into the starting rotation. With Clayton Kershaw being placed on the DL for the first time in his career, the Dodgers really needed someone to step up. Beckett did just that.
In April, he allowed only six earned runs in 22 innings, good for a 2.45 ERA. His dominance continued into May, and many believed he was on pace for his first All-Star Game since 2011. Later that month, he gave me one of the best baseball memories of my life.
On May 25th, he pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies in Philadelphia, the first by a Dodger since Hideo Nomo in 1996. The final out of the game, striking out Chase Utley looking on a fastball, couldn’t have been anymore perfect. The no-hitter is a symbol, representing Beckett’s hard work and dedication to fight back from injuries and return into near-elite form.
He arguably had his best month of the season in June, only allowing four earned runs in 33 innings. At this point, it wasn’t far-fetched to think he would receive votes for the Cy Young Award. He was one of the best pitchers in the National League statistically, and was on pace to receive a nice contract in free agency.
Unfortunately as June ended, another injury got the best of him; on July 8th, he was placed on the disabled list with a left hip impingement. Though he would return just two weeks later, he was never the same. His last start as a Dodger would be August 3rd, in which he allowed three earned runs in 4 innings against the Chicago Cubs.
He finished his impressive career with a 3.07 ERA in 93.2 IP in the postseason, even though none of those innings were logged as a Dodger, and that almost feels like a crime. Shortly after the Dodgers were eliminated in the NLDS, he announced his retirement. It wasn’t a big surprise, but at only 34 years old, it’s fair to wonder what could’ve been if injuries didn’t derail him.
Josh Beckett showed flashes of brilliance through spurts of his Dodgers tenure, and should be celebrated for a well-above average career. His no-hitter will always be a part of Dodgers history, and his effort won’t go unnoticed.
And for that, Josh, we thank you.