Must stay calm. It’s just two outings. And two outings against middle-of-the-road AL offenses. So take a deep breath before you start upwardly revising your expectations for the 2011 Red Sox. And remember, this might be nothing more than a head fake. But be warned, come Monday afternoon, Boston’s biggest mystery will be named AL Pitcher of the Week. And I ask … who in the world had Matsuzaka in that office pool?
At this point, Matsuzaka is really fucking with my head. Just to recap, I named him as my “Contrarian Pick of the Year” coming out of Spring Training, thinking that Boston’s new pitching coach might have come up with a secret sauce to fix this flavorless dish. And how was I rewarded? Well, three seconds into his season, Matsuzaka’s ERA stood 18.00 and five days later, it was almost 13 after Daisuke took one of his bi-annual ass whippings from Tampa Bay. Completely demoralized, I sold my Daisuke stock the next morning and argued it was time to end this failed experiment.
Since that moment, Matsuzaka has thrown fifteen innings and given up a grand total of TWO hits. Now time will tell whether I sold at the absolute bottom but it is a fact that this stock just ripped my face off. I mean this guy just recorded a game score of 77 and followed it up with a game score of 86. That isn’t exactly chump change. In fact, it is more Pedro than Schilling. And the scary thing is his next start will come against the worst offense that baseball has seen in twenty years. That brings up the possibility that Daisuke Matsuzaka might become, other than Pedro, the first pitcher in post-Yaz Red Sox history to string together three “75s” in a row. And I sold him, along with a bunch of other jerks, for 41 cents on the dollar.
[I made that ‘first to throw three 75s” stat up because I don’t know how to filter for game scores but I have looked through plenty of game logs and suffice to say, three consecutive 75s is pretty rare.]
The thing that was most striking about last night’s masterpiece was the overwhelming command that Matsuzaka demonstrated. After struggling a bit early (and getting nailed by a come backer), Daisuke’s balls to strikes were basically even after forty pitches. That means he closed by throwing 58 strikes and just 17 balls. That isn’t great. It is obscene. I mean there are guys who will pitch for the Red Sox this season who couldn’t toss batting practice with such efficiency. Honestly, do you think Dennys Reyes could go out there against a cardboard cutout and hit the target seventy-five percent of the time?
At this point, I am so confused by Matsuzaka that I am putting him on my restricted list, meaning I am not allowed to offer any buy or sell recommendations. That means I will not be encouraging the Red Sox to jump at this opportunity to sell Matsuzaka while the iron is hot. Nor will I be advising clients to revise their 2011 forecasts to account for the possibility that Matsuzaka might be a 1.15 WHIP guy.
Instead, I will just say this. I don’t call Matsuzaka by his nickname – Dice K – because my nickname policy limits the use of nicknames to those who have earned it through excellence or have nicknames that are hysterical to use. Matsuzaka’s case clears neither hurdle. But if Daisuke goes out there against Seattle next Friday and tosses a third gem, I’ll admit to this in advance …. I very well could lead next Saturday’s post with a stupid “Craps” metaphor.