Beckett’s Gem Keeps Boston Alive
Ok, you know the drill. Josh Beckett was amazing out there tonight. Here are the location and movement charts for Beckett as he shut down the Cleveland Indians to keep Boston alive. First, his pitch movement- if you haven’t seen one of these before, a normal fastball is at about 10 inches up and 5 to the left because of the backspin on it.
This is the fingerprint of a power pitcher at his best. His curveball was amazingly consistent, which helped him throw it for a strike a high percentage of the time. His fastball was consistently above 95 and moving almost as much as the sinker/2 seamer (which came in a few mph slower) he mixed in a handful of times. Josh did not throw a change-up all night. Now for his location:
That looks like amazing control and a game plan to me- all those Lefties in the Indian’s lineup got pitches out of the zone up and in and low and away. Look at any other location graph on this site and you’ll see a lot more scatter and random pitches. The only control that compares to this is Paul Byrd and he pitches about 15 mph slower. The only time he came down and in (to lefties) was with his sinker and he induced (ground ball) outs.
Also, apparently the umpire was having trouble seeing Beckett’s pitches because he was getting squeezed on all sides of the zone. Most of those balls that should have been strikes towards the top of the zone were sinkers that didn’t look that bad on TV, but pitch f/x says they were clearly strikes. The strike called way outside was a mistake by the system- that was a curve to Blake late in the game that looked good to me. The system has it coming in flat, and there’s no way it was half a foot outside when it crossed the plate.