BOSTON (CBS) – Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t even close to the pitcher we saw advertised.
As Matsuzaka heads towards Tommy John surgery, which will mean the end of his career in a Red Sox uniform, a look back at his five seasons will show that we got fooled in Boston.
First off, I applaud everyone from John Henry to Tom Werner to Larry Lucchino to Theo Epstein for taking the risk. Sure they have the money, but they chose to use it which many teams in baseball won’t do. That’s what the fans want.
The Red Sox thought they were getting the next Pedro Martinez. A 26-year-old phenom who could throw 94-97 with a vast array of six or seven other pitches to go with it. Remember the famous “gyro-ball”? The secret pitch of Dice-K that would make hitters look silly for years to come. He could throw a baseball like a wiffle ball. Just like Pedro.
Just didn’t translate…
Matsuzaka arrived and promptly gave up a single on his very first pitch in the Spring of 2007 to BC punter Johnny Ayers.
Now it wasn’t all that bad.
I think Daisuke did some good things.
You can argue that he was an important part of the 2007 World Series winning Red Sox. After all, he made 32 starts while eating up 200-plus innings. He went 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA while striking out 201 hitters.
Very good numbers.
He also went 2-1 in the 2007 post-season. His won the crucial Game 7 against the Indians in the ALCS going 5 innings while giving up 2 runs on 6 hits. He also won Game Three of the World Series against Colorado when he worked 5.1 innings, giving up just 2 runs on only 3 hits.
Two of the biggest wins in Red Sox history.
His team went 6-1 in his 7 postseason starts. Overall, 3-1 with a 4.79 ERA. I’ve seen many a HOF pitchers have worse post-season numbers.
Then in 2008, we saw Matsuzaka go 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 29 starts. However, he only threw 167.2 innings. Very good year, but again deceiving. However, any manager, pitcher, or fan would take 18 wins in any year no matter how they got it done.
So, for that Sox fans, a big thank you should go to Daisuke Matsuzaka.
However, after that it was a failure.
Matsuzaka went 16-15 in 45 starts over the last three seasons with a 5.04 ERA. He walked 137 while striking out 213 in 250 innings pitched.
He was an adventure every time he stepped on the mound. He could walk 7 or strike out 10. Give up 1 hit or 11. You never knew from start to start. And, I know that is the case with many big league pitchers, but this was to the extreme.
It was frustrating for pitching coach John Farrell and manager Terry Francona. They tried everything they could and more to get some consistency.
At the end, in my opinion, he simply had thrown too many pitches early on in Japan. The pinpoint control we heard about just wasn’t there. The six or seven pitches just weren’t there.
It’s not his fault.
That’s just how it goes with pitchers. 99-percent of the time they will give out at some point.
Can you be angry with him? Sure. Feel free.
I will look back on a starting pitcher that helped the franchise win a World Series.
Like a Bronson Arroyo.
But not like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, or even a Derek Lowe.
And, that’s where the disappointment comes in.
We never saw what we all imagined we’d see in the winter of 2006. The hype was simply much, much bigger than the Japanese arm.