BOSTON (CBS) — Jalen Beeks has been striking out opposing hitters at a tremendous rate for the PawSox this season. On Thursday night, he gets a chance to see what he can do against big leaguers.
The 24-year-old lefty will make his major league debut in a spot start for the first-place Red Sox against the Detroit Tigers. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN, but the laid-back Arkansas native isn’t going to let the bright lights of the majors fluster him on the hill.
“This is where you want to be, against the best in the world,” Beeks told reporters in the Boston dugout at Fenway Park on Wednesday. “Testing yourself against the best in the world, that’s what you want to do.”
Beeks leads the international league with 80 strikeouts over just 56.1 innings, and now gets to test his four-pitch mix against the pros. The southpaw features a fastball, cutter, curve and changeup, and credits his ability to mix in each of those pitches to his success this season.
“I think my delivery’s gotten better this year, so I think each of my pitches has gotten better. But I’ve had all four of my pitches in each game,” he explained. “So I’ve actually diversified, evened out my percentages throwing each pitch and not over-using any of them.”
He’s dazzled his way to a 2.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP for Pawtucket, and Beeks is one of the more promising young arms in Boston’s farm system. Though the Tigers aren’t the most formidable of foes this season, they still have one of the more feared hitters in the majors in future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.
But Beeks isn’t fretting about that matchup, confident that his big league backstop can guide him in the right direction.
“I’ll leave that to Sandy [Leon],” he chuckled. “Going to try to complete my pitches and come out on top.”
Beeks received word of his promotion late Tuesday night during the ninth inning of Pawtucket’s loss to Louisville. He grabbed his phone to share the news with his wife, but learned just how quickly words spreads.
“I tried to call my wife first, but my dad called first. He knew,” said Beeks. “He’s active on social media, I guess.”
Beeks will have quite the contingency on hand for his big night. His wife, two daughters, father, grandfather and several others will be at Fenway Park to watch him make his major league debut.
“And I’m guessing about 15 others,” he said, “I don’t know; I’m leaving that to my wife.”
Though he was roughly 24 hours away from his debut, Beeks seemed calm and collected as he soaked in Fenway Park on Wednesday. But he admitted that he might not get much sleep ahead of his debut.
“We’ll see. I have two kids, so they could wake me up. The two hours that I do get might be interrupted,” he joked.
Beeks will likely find his way back to the minors after Thursday night, but he gives the Red Sox a solid emergency started should the need arise again in the future.
“I’m really excited and honored to be here, to be a part of this team,” he said. “I’m just ready to go. I’m just really looking forward to it.”