Tigers @ Dodgers April 9, 2014: Beckett is Back

dodger_stadium_openingday2013As the Dodgers go for the two-game sweep against the Tigers, the biggest story is tonight’s starting pitcher. After a long road back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery (and temporary setbacks after shutting his thumb in a door and turning his ankle), Josh Beckett returns to action tonight. Even though I’ve written about him multiple times, I honestly have no idea what to expect.

The team has been cautiously optimistic about Beckett’s recovery, but his surgery was a difficult one and players who have had the same surgery have reached the majors only to falter after their returns. Given the research I have done, the things to look for (other than velocity) are Beckett’s release point and his posture during delivery. If Beckett is more upright, that will be a good sign.

Tigers
Dodgers 
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
LF
Davis
2B
Gordon
2B
Kinsler
LF
Crawford
1B
Cabrera
SS
Ramirez
C
Martinez
1B
Gonzalez
CF
Jackson
RF
Ethier
3B
Castellanos
CF
Kemp
RF
Collins
3B
Uribe
SS
Gonzalez
C
Federowicz
P
Sanchez (R)
P
Beckett (R)

The Detroit rotation is just relentless, so following last year’s Cy Young award winner is Anibal Sanchez, who led the American League in FIP- last season. FIP- is FIP compared to a pitcher’s league average and adjusted for park. A 100 FIP- is league average, and a lower value is better. Last season, Clayton Kershaw‘s FIP- was 66, or 34% better than a league average pitcher. Sanchez’ FIP- was 59. That value was boosted by a potentially lucky 5.8% HR/FB ratio, but even if that is adjusted to league average Sanchez is a difficult pitcher to face.

In Sanchez’ first start of the season, he lasted just four innings, forced out of the game by a rain delay. He struck out three batters, walked three batters, and gave up two runs. He struggled in the first inning, but was much better until the rain started.

In order to make room for Beckett, Jose Dominguez was optioned to Albuquerque. That’s not surprising, given where he is on the depth chart, and since the team was carrying eight relief pitchers. Yasiel Puig is missing from the lineup again, though he is available to pinch hit after taking batting practice before the game. Batting practice went well, but the team hasn’t indicated when Puig will be ready to return full-time. Brian Wilson threw a simulated game at Dodger Stadium tonight, but he’s still at least a week away from returning, if not longer.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the Dodgers announced that Hyun-jin Ryu will start on Friday and Zack Greinke will start on Saturday against the Diamondbacks. Though they haven’t announced Sunday’s starter, it will likely be Dan Haren. Since Paul Maholm is getting skipped this time through the rotation, he is available out of the bullpen tonight.

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn’t live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.