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Red Sox starters

Posted by Andy on September 14, 2007

A few notes on some of the Red Sox starters:

This entry was posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007 at 8:46 am and is filed under Game Finders, Season Finders, Splits. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Red Sox starters”

  1. "It makes one wonder if Matsuzaka has topped out already in his major league career."

    I can't see what would lead you to that conclusion. His last few starts have been horrendous and he's shown some adjustment problems (he winds up with one terrible inning in most starts), but other than the recent woes which are likely conditioning-related, everything but his W-L record has been fine. He's got plenty of tough-luck losses in there.

  2. Well, firstly, I didn't state it as a conclusion--I said "It makes one wonder..." And secondly, I meant to link that phrase to this article, which has its own opinion:

    http://yankees.lohudblogs.com/2007/09/14/a-year-later-dice-k-rolling-snake-eyes/

    He bases it on Matsuzaka's age, inconsistency, pitch selection, and the trend for previous Japanese pitchers in MLB.

  3. The thing about Japanese pitchers tending to have their best seasons early is interesting, but most of those guys were a good deal older too. I like LoHud, but he tends to draw some very dramatic conclusions about the Sox (for understandable reasons), e.g., yesterday's description of Ortiz's homer as a popup (about halfway down).

    There's no question Dice-K has gotten worse recently. He's fallen apart. I just have trouble drawing that trend line into next year. Sox fans are hoping it's an adjustment period like Beckett went through last year. I'm also hoping Dice-K gives up on the old workout system (early this season he was throwing 150+ pitch side sessions); I think he was unprepared for the workload change in both length of season and pitching more than once a week.

  4. Tom,

    I put a lot of stock in the history of Japanese pitchers in MLB. Look at Kazuhisa Ishii. His first year in MLB, 2002 at age 28, was very similar to Daisuke's year this year. Ishii was 14-10, 4.27, with (like Matsuzaka) both a lot of walks and a lot of strikeouts. Nomo was 26 when he started with the Dodgers and was, at best, league-average by age 28.

    I think there's something fairly basic going on here. In the history of baseball up through about 1990, there was something for both pitchers and hitters called "the sophmore slump". It wasn't all that rare for rookies to come into the league and perform splendidly, only to come back down to earth in their second season. Just look at all the past rookies of the year who haven't gone on to have notable careers. That phenomenon was caused by the fact that it took a year to develop a good scouting report, and because opposition relied more on look and feel than they did on hard evidence (such as video tape and stats.) In this day and age, no player comes up from the minors without extensive scouting--video taping, numbers up the wazoo, etc, and the flash-in-the-pan rookie year is much less prevalent. However, it seems that Japanese players are not scouted as thoroughly and there is less available. The attributes and tendencies of the Japanese leagues are also less well-understood in North American than the MLB minor leagues. So, players come over here with a relative degree of anonymity, which then tends to catch up with them by year 2.

    In defense of Daisuke, I think Abraham's comparison to Moyer is unjust. Daisuke has thrown a number of excellent games this year, and has the capability to give you an 8-inning shutout which Moyer no longer possesses (and maybe never did.) Also in support of the idea that Daisuke may get better is the fact that an unusually large fraction of his poor outings this year have been due to one bad inning, usually where he walks a number of hitters. Since he often bounces back in those very same games, this tells me that it's probably psychological, as opposed to being related to issues such as skill or fatigue. Therefore, whereas he cannot make himself throw 5 MPH faster, he does have the potential to correct the "trouble inning" phenomenon.

    One point of disagreement I have with you is that I would NOT try to change him away from his behavior in Japan. Look at his Japanese career--very consistently excellent. Why would they want to change that, with him already being 27 years old? To me, conventional North American MLB logic about how to handle pitchers goes out the window with a Japanese player. He's had 27 years of a different upbringing, different diet, different culture, different exercise, different training, different practice, different gameplay...and he's been enormously successful. Apparently he used to throw 300-pitch side sessions in Japan. I would let him continue as he sees fit. Might he burn out a little early? Perhaps, but what's better--5 years of above average pitching or 8 years of average pitching?

  5. Yeah, that last graf is a really good point. I don't have an argument with that, except that while different players' arms react differently to work loads, it's simply my feeling that there has to be a point of diminishing returns in practice and I'm guessing it's below 300 pitches.

    Yours,

    Alan Iverson.

  6. We're talkin' about practice...not a game...not a game...we're talkin' about practice.