Josh Beckett started today’s game suffering from a sprained thumb on his pitching hand. He left today’s game early due to the thumb. Who would’ve thought that pitching while injured would be a bad idea? Beckett was originally scheduled to go around four innings (or 65 pitches) today, but he only managed 43 pitches in three innings. He actually pitched pretty well while he was in the game, allowing no runs, two walks, and striking one batter out. The thumb did prevent him from throwing any curveballs during his outing.
The Dodgers reported that Beckett left the game with a right thumb “contusion” (bruise), which is slightly different than the sprain which was reported previously. We’re still waiting on an indication of the severity of the injury, but it could have post-Australia roster implications. At best, this is just a setback in Beckett’s preparation process. At worst, this might cause Beckett to start the season on the disabled list.
A trip to the 15 day disabled list wouldn’t have much of an impact on roster construction, since Beckett would be eligible to return on April 3rd. Given the injury, it seems likely that Beckett won’t be going to Australia and will clear a spot on the expanded roster for the trip. The impact of Beckett’s absence would become larger if he needed more time to prepare or if the thumb takes longer to heal than expected.
The Dodgers don’t need a fifth starter until April 19th, but they might want to use one in that stretch to reduce the overall workload. If so, Paul Maholm will be in the rotation to start the season. Maholm looked poor yesterday, but I don’t really need to remind you of the relative importance of spring training stats, right? Even if Maholm doesn’t begin the season as a starting pitcher, the bullpen can carry eight relievers to correspond with a four man rotation.
If Beckett doesn’t recover in time to start the season on the active roster, it will clear a path for Paco Rodriguez to make the team without carrying 13 pitchers. Even with Beckett’s injury, there still wouldn’t be a clear path for Seth Rosin. Chris Withrow would have to start the season in the minors, as well.
The bottom line is that if Beckett starts the season on the disabled list, it will remove at least one difficult roster decision until he’s ready to come back. But more difficult decisions will need to be made. The expanded Australia roster makes things a bit easier for now, and we’ll get a better idea of the front office’s mind-set later this weekend.
Keep an eye on the Cubs’ coaches at the end of the play.