Beckett's back
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Los Angeles Dodgers starter Josh Beckett flashed no-hit stuff very early in his career, but it took him until Sunday, 10 days after his 34th birthday, to actually throw one.

Beckett was masterful in a 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, throwing 80 of his career-high 128 pitches for strikes and allowing zero line drives.

It's time to take his comeback seriously.

Beckett made just eight starts in 2013 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. The surgery involved Beckett getting a rib, which was pressing a nerve and causing numbness in his pitching hand, removed.

Through nine starts this season, Beckett is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 55 2/3 innings. His 23.3 percent strikeout rate is his highest since 2008.

If you've been hesitant to jump in on Beckett, I understand. Owning him in fantasy has been frustrating, even if you've ignored his chemistry-upsetting crankiness.

He dealt with frequent blister issues in his first few years and didn't throw 200 innings in any of his four full seasons with the Florida Marlins. His regular-season results also didn't match his postseason dominance. And 2004-05 was the last time Beckett recorded an ERA below 4.00 in consecutive seasons.

In spring training, Beckett caught his thumb in a clubhouse door and was limited to eight innings in the Cactus League. If not for Clayton Kershaw's back injury, he may have never even been in Los Angeles' rotation.

But none of that matters now because Beckett is rolling.

Having all of the feeling back in his pitching hand seems to have given Beckett the confidence to increase his curveball usage. Beckett gets 12-to-6 action on his hook by using his middle finger to create pressure, and the nerve issue may have prevented him from doing that effectively over the past couple of years.

According to BrooksBaseball.com, Beckett has used the pitch 30.7 percent of the time this season, a high since 2007, the earliest year data is available. He threw it 40 times Sunday (31.3 percent).

Going into Sunday's start, opponents were hitting .117 against Beckett's curveball. That's obviously going down after the no-hitter.

The right-hander now has a 15.1 percent line-drive rate, which ranks in the top-10 among qualified starters and is one of the reasons why he has a .211 batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

Beckett may not be the gas-throwing Clemens-clone he was in 2003 anymore, but a 91-mph fastball and killer hook have been plenty good enough this season.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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