Thirteen years ago, an unknown minor leaguer by the name of Josh Beckett became the Florida Marlins’ No. 1 prospect, boasting a tremendous fastball that reached the mid-to-upper 90s.
A year later in Sept. 2001, he made his Major League debut, allowing just one hit in 6.0 innings. At that time, the Marlins knew that they might have found their franchise pitcher and the sky would be the limit for this youngster.
A lot has happened however in the next 13 years of Beckett’s career. For a while, it did look as if Beckett was going to be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. He led them to the club’s second World Series championship in 2003. Not only that, he was given the title of World Series MVP.
At the time, he was just 23 years old and already having an incredible career.
Then after just two more career years in Florida, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox on Thanksgiving Day 2005.
There, he continued his success, leading their pitching staff to the 2007 World Series championship. Adding to his accolades, he became a three-time All-Star in 2007, 2009, and 2011.
After being in the mix of controversy and after having a dreaded first half of the 2012 season, he was dealt to the Dodgers in the notorious mega-deal involving Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford among others in August.
A lot has changed for him, as he is starting his first full season in Los Angeles. Beckett is now re-inventing himself, hoping for a successful, fresh new start to his career.
For Beckett, this season is going to be a critical one.
He needs to show everybody, including himself, that he can still be an elite pitcher. Last year, after being traded to the Blue Crew, he put up a 2-3 record with a superb 2.93 ERA. A new atmosphere and a new club really helped him a whole lot.
Now becoming comfortable with the L.A. scene, he is going to need to show his dominance once again. We all know that he can’t throw that mid-to-upper 90s fastball anymore, but he does have the intelligence of a great pitcher, and still has the ability to fool hitters with his breaking stuff.
Not only will this be an important year for him, but the ball club will need him to succeed as well.
Most likely, Beckett will be thrown in the middle of the starting rotation, in either the No. 3 or No. 4 slot.
He has the great opportunity of pitching behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (and maybe Hyun-Jin Ryu). If those pitchers start to struggle at any point of the season, it will be up to Beckett to stop that bleeding and get the team back on track.
The Dodgers are going to have to rely on him to become elite once again.
One thing we do know, is that he has done it before.
He is very well-capable of the job.
He has already started the year great, as he has dominated so far in Spring Training, showing positive signs that the real Josh Beckett is back.
Now although Beckett is a bit under the radar in this pitching staff, he surely will play a major role in this team’s success, being the X-factor of this starting rotation.