Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Matsuzaka Watch: Episodes 10-13

Greetings Matsuzaka fans. After running these updates at Canyon of Heroes exclusively, I decided that the content was important enough to merit it's own blog. Matsuzaka Watch is now a full weblog unto itself, and should host information and updates on Daisuke Matsuzaka as often as I can humanly achieve it.

You'll notice that the blog header is the old COH banner for Matsuzaka Watch with the Yankee logo on the left. That can't be helped. The entire reason I started this project in the first place was to keep Yankee fans over at Canyon of Heroes well versed on the most coveted pitcher in the world today. That's still my purpose, although I am happy to see that so many Angels, Mets, and Red Sox fans have chimed in on their desire to bring Daisuke to the US. I wish those teams luck, but my heart is with the home team, so Yankees logo on the banner it is.

I've been a bit negligent in keeping Matsuzaka Watch current at COH, and owe readers a few June updates. I'll start by mentioning that Matsuzaka left his last start on Friday the 23rd of June in the early innings with a strained groin. He missed some time with the same injury in recent years, but all updates indicate that it was a precautionary thing and that he seems to be moving normally now. No word on whether he'll make his scheduled Friday start this week, but you'll know as soon as I do.

I'll start with the June 2nd game in catching you up to speed. It won't be very comprehensive, but the 4 games I write about here are long since finished and the stats at the end of the post will tell the story for me. Here we go:

On June 2nd, 2006, the Lions took on the legendary Yomiuri Giants. It was a matchup between dominating American pitcher Jeremy Powell and young Daisuke that ended in a dramatic victory for the Giants. Matsuzaka was absolutely cruising through this game, while Powell beaned Lions' rightfielder Hisashi Takayama and was immediately ejected under Japanese rules. In the 6th inning the wheels came off the cart for Daisuke, as he gave up 2 singles and a double before succumbing to a huge 3 run blast by catcher Shinnosuke Abe, a personal favorite, on a hanging change. I've never seen Matsuzaka so frustrated and shaken. He totally lost his cool and danced around the mound smirking to himself. He is usually unflappable, but I think he saw the whole thing building and lost his concentration. That was all the Giants needed as they won 4-2.

On the following Friday, June 9th, Matsuzaka and the Lions faced the equally historical Hanshin Tigers and figured to bounce back from his disappointment against the Giants. He did just that as he pitched a complete game, giving up one run in a 10-1 victory. He struck out 14 batters, matching the total in his May 26th start against the same club. The capper was his 8th inning 2 run bomb that put the cherry on top of his outing.

June 16th was another impressive affair for young Daisuke. He faced the inept Yokohama BayStars, who had taken the loss in his May 19th victory despite lighting him up for 7 runs, 5 earned. That outing alone was responsible for a third of his earned run total on the season going into the game, and the 2 earned runs he gave up in his victory the second time around still tallies a third of his 21 earned runs on the year. However, this time was a bit easier for Matsuzaka as he struck out 12 batter on his way to a complete game, 3-hitter, 6-3 win.

That brings us to the injury that Matsuzaka sustained in his last start. On Saturday, June 24th, Seibu took on the defending champion Chiba Lotte Marines and Bobby Valentine. In the first inning, Daisuke began by walking leadoff man and WBC teammate Nishioka before retiring right fielder Watson on a deep fly to center. Matsuzaka then proceeded to walk the outstanding 1st baseman for Lotte, Fukuura before retiring Benny Agbayani on a pop up to first. That was all she wrote as the trainer was called to examine our hero and it was decided that it would be better to play it safe. The Lions went on to win the game 4-3 thanks to a couple of homers including Alex Cabrera's 19th on the year and shortstop Kataoka's 3-run job in the deciding 5th inning.

Click the graphic below for an enlarged image depicting the up to date stats for Matsuzaka.

Now that you're up to speed, check back often for more news on Daisuke Matsuzaka, and whether or not he'll be making his scheduled start this week. Keep your fingers crossed. See you back here soon.


At 8:49 AM, Anonymous mars2001 said...

Dude... you rock.

Thanks for getting us up-to-speed on the Matsuzaka watch (and sorry for haranging you in the COH comments)....

A few questions that jump out to me that I was hoping you could help me with:

1. in the June 2 start, you mention that Powell beaned someone earning an immediate ejection under Japanese baseball rules... what rule(s) is that? Are hit-batsmen verbotten, or is there more to this story?

2. what sort of injury history does Matsuzaka have (esp. with his groin)... has he ever undergone surgery?

3. I've only read clips elsewhere, but can you tell me more about the gyroball?

4. I'm thinking that the #P/game shouldn't include this last start as it skews it away from the borderline-troubling 114/game... (not to mention the history of huge pitch-counts on short rest).

5. Final question here.... what sort of rotation is he working in? It seems like he's getting almost exactly 1 start per 7 days right now, which seems odd with what I've heard in the past about pitching all games of a championship series & that 249 pitch 17-inning game he pitched in High School...

Also, I wanted to share the following links (you might want to snag a copy of them, they could become premium links any day now)...

Matsuzaka's inclusion in the "ESPN Top 50 Most Valuable Players" (over the next 6 years):

and the excerpt from Rob Neyer's book on the Gyroball (also has good back-story on Matsuzaka):

Thanks again, I look forward to future updates (maybe you could put some sort of miniature symbol in the text of the COH blog to show when a Matsuzaka Watch update had been posted)....


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Mike Plugh said...

Dude. YOU rock.

Glad to see you're so interested. I'll answer some of your questions in a post over the next day or two.

As for the Powell ejection. I believe the rule is about actually beaning a batter, and not simply hitting him. If the ball hits the batter in the head you're gone.

The statistical record is tricky because it has to ba completely accurate. If he had given up 2 homers in those 2/3rds of an inning, it would be wrong to dismiss them from his record. As far as I can see, the only problematic stat is the average pitches per outing is skewed. I will try to keep the graphic as is, but make a note of the pitch count for non-injury shortened starts to reflect his typical workload.

In Japan, most teams work on a 6-man rotation so he pitches every 7th day. Usually Friday.

His injury is not serious or chronic. I think every pitcher has groin issues during the course of a long season. I'll try to find info about how many times he's had it. Never surgery of any kind to my knowledge.

Thanks again. More soon.

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Hank said...

Don't you poor fools know that Matsuzaka is going to be a Mariner! You Yanks think you can buy everyone. Besides, he has already expressed interest in the M's and is looking foward to playing with Ichiro and working with Jojima behind the plate. Just wait and see.


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