Red Sox righthander Josh Beckett is unlikely to make his scheduled start on Friday due to back spasms and there is no date set for his return. Beckett is off to an awful start, even though he hasn’t pitched as bad as the 7.46 ERA and 1.66 WHIP indicate. Throughout his career, Beckett has been very streaky. He has had months with very high ERAs and then months of dominance. Just last April he had an ERA over 7.00, as he did this season.

The concerns with Beckett are his 7.46 K/9 and his 3.51 BB/9, but we’re looking at a small sample spanning 41 innings. He has been unlucky, however, as shown by a 56.9 strand rate and .365 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). There is no significant decrease in his velocity.

Another possible reason for his struggles could be that when runners are on base, it is weighing on his mind heavily since the Red Sox catchers are struggling mightily to throw out runners. He is trying to get the ball to the plate quicker with a slide step that might be having an impact on his pitches. Beckett cruised threw the first three innings against the Yankees over the weekend with seven strikeouts, but once runners got on base he lost it and was lit up for a big inning, which has been a recurring problem this season.

In seven starts, Beckett has allowed at least five earned runs four times, including at least seven runs three times. Beckett had a 7.22 ERA in April in 2009, 2.38 in May, 1.51 ERA in June, 3.35 in July and 5.03 in August, a month where he allowed 12 home runs.

The bottom line is we have seen inconsistency from Beckett throughout his career. As long as the back spasms aren’t serious, there’s nothing to suggest Beckett won’t turn it around. I would still buy low on Beckett.

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