Monday, June 11, 2007

Walk This Way

The walk. It'll kill you. There is no more damaging part of the game for a team than the issued walk. You may say the home run is more damaging, except that a home run can occur on the first pitch of an at bat. Yes, it puts a run on the board, so there's an argument, but the walk can become something that spirals out of control. You throw more pitches. You lose the plate. You work out of the stretch. You make your teammates sit back on their heels waiting for something to happen. You get more and more tired, giving each successive batter a better chance at a mistake that will cost you more than a single run. Oh, the walk.

The base on balls has been Matsuzaka's cement collar this season. The rest of his game is getting better and better and you can see that he is All World under the mysterious control issues. He strikes out some of the game's best players multiple times in a game and he sometimes makes them look foolish in doing so. The game of baseball is also very fickle. Consider Matsuzaka's last 2 starts:

13 IP
11 hits
6 BB
17 K
4 ER
2 losses

Looking more closely at the ratios for those performances you see that Daisuke has put up:

2.76 ERA
1.308 WHIP
11.77 K/9
2.83 K/BB
7.62 H/9
4.20 BB/9

The high pitch counts and the struggles he has in certain innings come from the walks. Everything negative in his pitching line comes from walking batters. 11.77 K/9 is nuts. (It's also one of the factors that helps him escape from tough spots he creates.) On the season, Matsuzaka has an 8.92 K/9 ratio, which is outstanding. The ability is there. The control is not. That said, you have to win a game in which your starter gives you a "quality start". 6 innings and 2 runs is a winnable game, but the Sox offense has stayed behind in Boston as the team has played out West. On the West Coast swing, the Sox scored 22 runs in 7 games, which is 3.14 runs per contest. That isn't winning baseball. That's pi. If you take out the big 10-3 win against Arizona in the first game of the current series, you have 12 runs in 6 games, which is easily calculated to a measly 2 runs per outing. Ouch.

Maybe the travel day will reunite the Sox with their luggage...er....offense and the team can get the bats back together. The Yankees are only a razor thin 9.5 back now. Uh....yeah. There's no place like home.

4 Comments:

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York fans have a new nickname for Matsuzaka: Dice-BB.

Unfortunately, it is turning out to be an apt moniker so far.

 
At 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your selection of "Beat Takeshi" He used to be a stand up comedian back in 70's. And when he sang "Hot Legs", he sounded a lot like Rod Stewart. It's good to know that he is so successful in what he does. Great blog, Mike-san.

 
At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Tully Moxness said...

This has been an odd season for Daisuke-san in terms of wins and losses. With the exception of the brutal Cleveland game, all of his losses have been quality starts (he gave up a total of 9 earned runs in those games). Also, the Red Sox may have given him a lot of run support, but in those four losses, they have scored a grand total of 2 runs.

As far as I'm concerned, Matsuzaka is about to break out and kick some butt over the rest of the year. He made a few bad pitches yesterday, but the overall quality of his stuff is finally reminding me of his NPB games. That split-fingered fastball he K'd Chad Tracy on was something I've waited to see all year. As long as he gets run support from his mates, he should have 10 wins at the All-Star break, and I still see 18 wins by the end of the year. The one area I'm concerned about is his inability to throw quality pitches with consistency on 0-2 and 1-2 counts - I almost got kicked out of the house yesterday after another profanity-laced tirade when he gave up a hit on a 1-2 count.

By the way, watch the MLB.tv archived game and listen to Mark Grace keep marvelling at Matsuzaka's guts (by throwing fastballs over the plate). Late in the game, he finally realized that his repetoire allows him to keep hitters off balance. No wonder the Cubs never won a World Series with him. :)

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous DaisukeM18 said...

Do NY fans call Petitte, Andy-BB too?
He only has 2 less walks than Daisuke.

Seriously though, Daisuke wins if the Red Sox score for him these last two games.

 

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