If this is the end of Josh Beckett, his tale is a tragedy

Over the past few years, Josh Beckett‘s life has been a dark comedy. There were the fights with the media, the failure to live up to his contracts, and the whole thing with the fact he was one of the Red Sox who apparently were having chicken and beer over games of Call of Duty while the 2011 Red Sox burned.

But now, it looks like it will instead be a full-on tragedy, as the Los Angeles Times reports that Beckett has been feeling numbness in his pitching hand, something that could well end his career.

And that stinks. Because, while Beckett’s career has been in free-fall this decade, at his peak he was one of the best pitchers in the game, and, what’s more, he was awesome in the post-season.

In fact, it’s the post-season where, if this is the end, we will probably most remember Beckett. His first appearance on the national stage came in 2003, when he was the World Series MVP with the Marlins, finishing off the Yankees on short rest with a complete game shutout in Game 6.

That is more than can be said for many pitchers, but in 2007, he did it again, going 4-0 in his starts for the Red Sox, including winning the MVP of the ALCS, where he had a absurdly low ERA 1.93 ERA… which was actually higher than his ERA in the other two series he pitched in (although, admittedly, those series were sweeps where he only had one start).

Of course, after that, his career took a downturn. His postseason performances did a downturn first, with him going 1-1 with no ERA below 5.40 in the three series he’s pitched since 2007.  While he was a regular season All-Star in 2008 and 2011*, he was no longer the above-all ace he once was. Since 2011, in fact, he is 7-19 with a 4.76 ERA in the regular season.

But, perhaps if this is the end, we should try to remember where he was best: the World Series. In his three starts (so admittedly a small sample size) and 23.1 innings pitched in the Fall Classic, Josh Beckett went 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA.

And that’s impressive.

*Before the ASG in 2011, Beckett was 8-3 with a 2.27 ERA, but the second half saw him be a just-okay 5-4 with a 3.73 ERA.