Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Matsuzaka Strategy

Another enigmatic outing from the $103 million man last night. He was absolutely brilliant. I didn't see the no-hit bid, but I doubt that outing could be any better than this one. Haters can go ahead and cite Cleveland's .241 home batting average, but it's not necessary. He can drop performances like this against the worst teams in the league but also the best teams of the league (like Philadelphia used to be).

Matsuzaka gave up four hits and walked two. The most important stat here is that he only struck out five. Which brings me to my point.

What we've seen out of the player this year is a hesitance to attack the strike zone. The guy did not want to pitch to contact. He's the anti-Bill Hall. Watching him pitch is similar to an average person putting in golf or bowling. You have to concentrate big-time, have pinpoint accuracy, and if you screw up a few, you psyche yourself out mentally. This seems to be exactly what happened with Matsuzaka's bad innings. Including the Oakland game last week.

Bottom line, you shouldn't play baseball that way.

My modest proposal is for Matsuzaka to pitch to contact more. He did this yesterday. He picked at the corners a few times, especially when he decided to switch up his pitches toward the end of the game. But when Matsuzaka pitches to contact, the contact he gives up is awkward, uncomfortable, and crappy about 90% of the time. Did anyone actually hit the ball hard against Matsuzaka last night? Other than the first inning, did anyone actually hit the ball hard during the Oakland game?

I didn't think so.

So by pitching to contact, Matsuzaka can waste fewer pitches, get a lot of routine fly outs created by unbalanced, terrible swings. He has the repertoire (and sometimes the command) to baffle batters, and that's what we saw last night. Sometimes you'll get some Jeter hits that fall in between the first baseman, second baseman, and right fielder unless the right fielder decides to hustle. Better that than walking the bases loaded and being forced to throw a meatball down the middle.

Also, one more comment: How much did Victor Martinez suck at calling the game last night? Enjoy your day.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I didn't even recognize Matsuzaka last night. He threw strikes as aggressively as I've ever seen him. None of the nibbling and the game flew by. Agreed that Cleveland is not a great offensive club, but they are still major league hitters. Sure, maybe teams like the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays would have been more successful. But anything more than getting shut out over eight innings would have to be considered improvement over what the Indians did last night.

If Daisuke brings last nights mentality forward it could be a great thing for the Red Sox. I'm not saying that he'll become Cy Young, but he very well could be a legitimate 3rd starter pitching in the fifth starters role.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Dice is finally coming around, as we all knew he would. A couple more performances like this and he will probably take the place of Pat's boy Vazquez on the All-Star game roster.

The key for him going forward is to avoid those big innings that have hurt him in a number of his starts this season. Although I missed his start last night, it sounds like he went at Cleveland in the same way he went at Oakland after the first inning. Good news, at the least.

Anonymous said...

TimC,

Good point. If that happen's, Pat's Boy might become the first player to miss the all-star team but still win the CY Young on the strength of his second half performance.

Also, I saw that you posted a link to a soccer blog called "Corner Kicks" at the end of the comments section under the previous post. I laughed when I read that. Corner Kicks sounds like the name of a crappy sports bar that people like the Gunn would frequent.

bandi

jason said...

it was definitely good to see dice k pitching like pats boy has been pitching lately

the gm at work said...

Pat's boy is Chris Carpenter.

Pat:Vazquez :: Bronx:Brett Gardner.

Enjoy yo day.