It’s no secret by now that the Josh Beckett of 2011 is vastly different to the Josh Beckett of 2010.
Last year, the right-hander wasn’t healthy to start the season, and it showed. He was roughed up to the tune of a 5.78 ERA and served up 20 home runs in 21 starts.
The Yankees hit nine of those homers against Beckett, and his ERA against New York in five starts was 10.04. Yankee batters hit nearly .340 against Beckett, and his shortcomings became crystal clear in those five outings.
But in 2011, Beckett is a new pitcher, and the immense success he’s had against the Yankees this season is helping to highlight his resurrection as an elite starter.
After Wednesday night’s start at Fenway Park, Beckett is now 4-0 against the Yankees in 2011 with the following numbers: 34 IP, 22 H, 7 ER, 10 BB, 38 K.
That equates to a 1.85 ERA in five starts for Beckett against the best lineup in baseball this year outside of Boston.
Of the teams Beckett has faced at least twice this season, only two have had a tougher time solving him: The Angels (1.46) and Rays (0.00).
Beckett is now 12-5 on the year with a 2.54 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. He won’t win the American League Cy Young award (primarily because Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver pitch in the A.L.), but when facing the Yankees this year, he’s had Cy Young-caliber stuff.
In fact, CC Sabathia (17-7, 2.99) might have a better Cy Young resume in the eyes of some voters, but it’s clear that Beckett would have the edge in a head-to-head matchup.
While the Red Sox right-hander has baffled Yankee hitters all year, Sabathia is 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA against Boston and finally beat the Sox for the first time on Tuesday night.
Last season, the thought of Beckett facing the vaunted New York lineup would have given Terry Francona nightmares.
If the two rivals should meet in the ALCS this October, there’s no doubt that Francona will confidently hand Beckett the ball to continue his Yankee domination in 2011.
Alastair Ingram is the featured Boston Red Sox columnist for RantSports.com. For daily updates, follow him on Twitter at @AlastairIngram, follow the blog at @RedSoxRant, and join the fan page on Facebook.