Beckett caps Pedro-esque first half tonight

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
11:51
AM ET
Josh Beckett and Pedro MartinezGetty ImagesJosh Beckett has a chance to have the best first-half Red Sox ERA since Pedro Martinez in 2000.
The best first half for Boston Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez.

With one start remaining before the All-Star break, that distinction is on the line as Josh Beckett takes the mound Friday against the Baltimore Orioles.

A closer look at the numbers shows just how historic Beckett’s first half numbers have been.

He enters Friday with a 2.12 ERA, on track to be the lowest pre-All-Star break ERA for a Red Sox starter since Martinez (1.44) in 2000. In fact, since World War II, only two Red Sox starters have had a lower ERA at the break: Martinez (1999 and 2000) and Tim Wakefield (1995).

Beckett has held opponents to a .178 batting average, the lowest in the majors. Again, the nearest precedent is Pedro, who held opponents to a .164 batting average through in the first half of 2000. Prior to that, the next-best pre-break BAA for a Red Sox pitcher in the post-WWII era was Roger Clemens in 1986, when he held opponents to .183 in the first half.

In this case, Beckett’s numbers aren’t just making Red Sox history. Apart from Martinez, Beckett’s .178 Opp. BA would be the lowest for an AL pitcher at the break since Nolan Ryan (.158) in 1991.

Fenway the forgotten home

Only one of Beckett’s past seven starts has been at Fenway Park. On Friday, he returns to pitch in Boston for the first time in over a month, having last appeared there on June 4 against the Oakland Athletics.

In fact, despite staying healthy, Beckett does not have enough innings to qualify among the league’s ERA leaders at home. Yet, when given the chance to pitch in front of the Fenway faithful, few have been better.

He is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA at home this season. Among those with at least five starts at home, that’s the third lowest ERA in the majors behind Jaime Garcia (0.94) and Ryan Vogelsong (1.01). It’s the lowest among American League pitchers.

Beckett is looking to be just the fourth qualifying Red Sox starter with an ERA under 2.00 at Fenway in a season since World War II. He’d join Roger Clemens (1.53 in 1990), Luis Tiant (1.57 in 1972) and Pedro Martinez (1.84 in 2000).

AL East dominance

Friday will mark Beckett’s seventh start against the AL East, and he’s yet to lose one. In all, he is 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA against the division compared to 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA otherwise.

Among those with multiple starts against the AL East, only James Shields (1.36) has a lower ERA.

Compare that to last season, when Beckett finished 1-4 with a 6.95 ERA against the AL East, mostly due to a 10.04 ERA against the New York Yankees.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information

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