Ray of HopeThanks to the Devil Rays, the Red Sox are putting a disappointing series against the O's to bed. The Rays look fair on paper and always give me hope that they will emerge from the cellar of the AL East one day, but in reality they are just awful. Matsuzaka is looking to get that elusive 14th win against the bumbling rays today and doesn't have to face the opposing team's ace on this occasion.
This is a good opportunity to continue to lower his ERA and increase both his VORP and ERA+ to help his statistical case for those who follow such things. Right now, Daisuke's VORP stands at about 42 and his ERA+ is 126. Those numbers are excellent and are helping to make Theo's case for splashing on the posting fee. I was looking at Daisuke's stats, comparing them to the other pitchers in the Majors with at least 100 innings pitched. He is near the top of the league in several categories, but hasn't cracked the upper echelon of pitchers in baseball yet, mainly due to the walks he's allowed so far. His K-rate is over 9, but that is offset by a lot of free passes. It's the same story every time when discussing Daisuke's shortcomings, but the walks have prevented him from being truly elite. Carlos Zambrano is similar in the respect that both men throw upwards of 110 pitches per start. Those starts rarely go beyond 6+ innings because both men waste a ton of pitches to get their big strikeout totals. Both men are very young, as far as starting pitching goes, and need to learn to forgo the strikeout in favor of a few easier outs. As they get older their success will depend on it.
For now, the Rays are looking to get to Daisuke quickly in this game. They are starting Andy Sonnanstine, who is 1-8 with a 6.35 ERA. The Sox offense could stake Matsuzaka to a big lead early and it will be smooth sailing from there. I imagine that will be the case and I also imagine that you'll see Gagne get back on the horse in this game and he'll pitch lights out.