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A closer look at Beckett and his catchers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  April 12, 2011 11:00 AM

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Josh Beckett was so outstanding on Sunday night against the Yankees that it re-opened the debate about whether Jason Varitek should be his personal catcher.

It certainly appears that's what Beckett wants given his comments after the game. He praised Varitek's pitch-calling and how calm he was behind the plate.

There is little doubt that Beckett works well with Varitek. Over 731 innings, he has a 3.90 ERA with Varitek behind the plate. Since he was traded to Boston, Beckett has pitched 201.2 innings to other catchers and has a 5.53 ERA.

That's a huge difference. But how much of that is in Beckett's head? He had a 3.46 ERA in Florida over 609 innings, after all. He was pretty good before he ever met Varitek. Of course some of that disparity was probably related to being in the weaker National League.

For for the sake of comparison, here are how some other Red Sox pitchers have fared with and without Varitek:

Jon Lester
506.1 IP with Varitek: 3.48 ERA
272 IP with other catchers: 3.67 ERA

Clay Buchholz
99 IP with Varitek: 5.45 ERA
275.1 IP with other catchers: 3.17 ERA

Jonathan Papelbon
231.2 IP with Varitek: 2.10 ERA
136.1 IP with other catchers: 2.44 ERA

The long-term issue is this: Varitek is 39 and Beckett is signed through 2014. The odds are fairly good that Beckett will still be pitching when Varitek has retired. What happens then?

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