DukeswalkIf you had to put your finger on one problem that Daisuke has had this year, it's easy. He walks too many batters and wastes too many pitches in doing so. Looking at the monthly splits on Daisuke's numbers, June has proved to be his best month. Perhaps, his recent success can be attributed to facing NL clubs in 3 of the 4 contests he's started this month, 2 of those in NL parks where the DH takes a vacation.
April - 4.36 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .242 BAA, 10.36 K/9, 2.73 BB/9
May - 5.22 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, .280 BAA, 6.81 K/9, 2.50 BB/9
June - 1.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .196 BAA, 11.77 K/9, 4.85 BB/9
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
Hold on for just a second. You mean to tell me that Daisuke had his best month of the season while allowing nearly 5 walks per 9 innings? How can that be? I suppose one theory is that batters made much more contact in May. Matsuzaka allowed a .280 batting average to hitters, and only struck out a very average 6.81 batters per nine. He was hittable. In June, despite missing more frequently, he prevented batters from making contact and kept them from driving in runs. Eventually, something like that is going to catch up to you. You can't expect to put yourself into jam after jam and wriggle out of it with a few well timed strikeouts.
I've enlisted "walking guru" Duke Saraie to help me figure out how Daisuke can get his "walking" under control and his dominance of batters back in line with his Seibu days. Duke is a 50-something former fashion model, who now splits time between his home in Monaco and his native Japan. His claim to fame these days is his fitness and wellness program called "Dukeswalk", in which participants engage in all manner of strenuous and contorted walking styles to unleash their inner confidence and tone their outer frame. Saraie, pronounced "sah-RAH-ee-ay", has been a staple on the Japanese variety television circuit over the last few years, and is kind of a cult guru for the young and restless.
When I asked Duke what he thought could get Matsuzaka back on track, he laughed boisterously and told me that he could work out the kinks in Daisuke's game with one quick training session in Dukeswalk. He recommended the "torso walk," arguably Duke's best-known exercise. It has been described thus: With your arms raised and crossed above your head and palms joined so that you look like a church steeple, you zigzag along, waving your "spire" and saying "Shyoot, shyoot!" as you go. By the magic of YouTube, I present you with a short peek into the genius of Duke Saraie and the famous "torso walk". The clip is just some random Japanese guy in his office, but you get the point:
Saraie promised that he'd work on this technique with Daisuke before his Seattle start, to improve on his pitch count. I'll take him at his word, and I'll also let his prediction stand as my own this go around.
The Mariners are last in MLB in walks, so it gives the Duke a little boost in his prediction, but Daisuke has walked 6 batters over 12 innings against Seattle this year and he's given up 10 runs. The Mariners are one of the best hitting teams in baseball, so we might see a short scoring outburst at some point. I think Saraie's "torso walk" will get Matsuzaka to pitch more economically, so 8 innings seems like a good bet. Less strikeouts as well. Hmmmmm.......I might have to tack another run onto that prediction myself and go with 4, but he's the genius, right?