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Beckett is Back and Helps Make the Dodgers A Big Contender

Josh Beckett is back. When he started this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers on the right foot much was said about a veteran pitcher reinventing his game, reinventing himself and giving his career a resurrection.

However, it has gone much beyond just a feel good story. Beckett has remained week in and week out amongst the elite pitchers in the National League in ERA.

The comeback is complete. Beckett is back. His ERA this season is 2.11, which is good enough for third in the NL.

On Thursday, Beckett went out and pitched seven innings of shutout baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the game 1-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

He now has 14 straight shutout innings and earlier in the season threw a no-hitter. He would be considered the ace on most other teams except the Dodgers where they already have two other aces. However, he is far better than a No. 3 starter.

Beckett however is not the hard throwing 98 mph fastball Beckett of before. Today he throws a curve ball at a higher rate than likely any other starter in the majors, about 33% of the time. That however makes his 92 mph fastball seem all that much faster than it really is.

It has been less than one year since Beckett underwent unpredictable surgery, where doctors took out a small rib from near his shoulder to relieve some pressure on a nerve.

There is more to Beckett’s return than just the surgery and his manager Don Mattingly may have summed it up best when he said that batters today could not hit the curveball.

Look at Beckett, teammates Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. All possess incredibly tough curveballs and all amongst the best pitchers in the National League or baseball for that matter.

Rick Honeycutt the pitching coach for Los Angeles agrees. In fact, Honeycutt has convinced Dan Haren another starting pitcher of the Dodgers to bring his curveball back and that has helped him get off to a solid start during the first half of the season, despite having a fastball that barely reaches 87 mph.

Beckett has not argued with the theory proposed by Mattingly, though he did say that St. Louis has a hitting lineup with the likes of Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday that can hit curveballs.

Beckett of course does not like to take credit for the pitching clinics he has thrown this season. He credited the addition of Miguel Rojas at shortstop and the return of Matt Kemp in the outfield.

With the win, Beckett is now 5-4 on the season, but his record is far from showing how successful he has been, just look at the 2.11 ERA.

Even more important, the Dodgers are just 2 games behind the first place San Francisco Giants after trailing by 9 ½ games as recently as June 8.

With the likes of Kershaw, Greinke, Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haran, the Dodgers might just have the best overall starting rotation in baseball.

With their team’s hitting becoming timelier, and players like Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp hitting their way out of their batting slumps, the Dodgers look ready to take control of the NL West as they did last season.

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