October 18, 2008

HE'S RIGHT TO DOUBT VARITEK:

Fastball tell-tale sign for Beckett (Buster Olney, October 18, 2008, ESPN)

Some things to look for:

1. The radar gun readings: The velocity shown on broadcasts and in the stadiums are notoriously high, say scouts who use radar, usually by three to four miles per hour. If Beckett's velocity reading on TV tonight is 93 or 94, that probably means he's throwing 90-91. If the radar gun readings are 91-92, well, that might be the sign of a problem, because it means that, as was the case in Game 2, Beckett won't have the kind of velocity needed to overpower hitters.

For example, in Game 2, he fell behind B.J. Upton 2-0, and then tried to challenge Upton with a fastball -- and Upton ripped a home run. If you see 90-91 on the radar, then Beckett's fastball is workable, but not with a caveman-like approach; he'll have to pick his spots, set up his fastball with his off-speed stuff, and use the movement on his two-seam fastball.

2. The communication between Beckett and Jason Varitek. Scouts who have trailed the Red Sox in recent weeks say when Beckett lacks confidence in his fastball, he tends to be indecisive in his pitch selection. If he's not feeling great, you might see him shake off Varitek's sign once or twice, before stepping off the mound and resetting -- and before sometimes agreeing to throw what Varitek initially asked for. "Some pitchers just work slowly, and that's just the way they are," said one advance scout. "When Beckett works slowly, for me, that's a sign of doubt."

3. Beckett could do in Game 6 what a couple of Boston pitchers did in Game 5 and make the Tampa Bay hitters move their feet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2008 6:41 PM
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