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Dice-K imploded last night. And it’s really no mystery why

Apr 12, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Daisuke Matsuzaka got creamed last night, giving up seven runs on eight hits, including two homers, in two innings.  This morning Rob Bradford of WEEI has a story up with the headline “One hundred starts later the Daisuke Matsuzaka mystery remains unsolved.”

Bradford tries to figure out where it all went wrong for Dice-K, but I gotta tell ya: it ain’t no mystery: if you throw 90 mile per hour fastballs to the fat part of the plate and have nothing else to show the hitters to make them do anything but wait for those meatballs, you’re gonna get creamed.  And it isn’t just me saying it. Terry Francona said as much after last night’s game:

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A lot of people wonder when Dice-K will return to form. Fact is, though, that Matsuzaka had one really sweet year: 2008, and he was pretty lucky that year, posting a sub-3.00 ERA despite leading the league in walks and in hits allowed per nine innings.  The truth, it seems, is that Dice-K is the pitching version of Jeff Francoeur. A guy whose bad performances, at some point, have to be considered the norm and his good ones the aberration. Not the other way around.

  1. phukyouk - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I hope he pitches all year

    • uyf1950 - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      Your right. I think the same can be said about Lackey. I kind of wish he (Dice K) pitched this past Sunday against the Yankees as opposed to Beckett.

      • phukyouk - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM

        oh yea… Lackey is their next DiceK. and BTW that Beckett performance was two things 1) a flash of brilliance. if you think its happening again you are nuts. and 2) BS calls by the umps on what should have been Strikes BASED on how CC was called.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM


      • phukyouk - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        2-8… ‘Nuff said

      • baseballisboring - Apr 12, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        Wahhhhhhh is right. 152 more games left you dolt…enjoy Bartolo

      • pisano - Apr 12, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        uyf1950… it’s like you said a couple of weeks ago Boston’s pitching and the Yankee pitching are about equal. After Lester and sometimes Bucholz it’s a pick-em. Dice-k is going to give them maybe 2 to 3 good starts out of 10, Lacking,(Lackey) is a total crap shoot, the Angels got his best years ago it’s down hill for him. Beckett looked good the other night, but you never know when he’ll revert back to being unreliable. The problem they’ll run into is burning up that suspect bullpen, Wheeler got pounded last night and Papelbum hasn’t had two many chances to blow saves yet, but it’s coming. The prediction of them running away with the AL east was premature, and I can’t quote the idiot that said they were the best team in baseball, but there may have been a few of them and they probably drank out of the same punch bowl that was spiked with LSD. It’s a long season and a lot of changes will be made by the teams in contention, that’s why they play 162 games, they’re no write in winners.

    • marshmallowsnake - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:57 PM

      I hope Phil Hughes pitches all year too!

      • baseballisboring - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:01 PM

        And Garcia. And Colon. And Burnett. And Nova. Oh this is too easy…

    • bigharold - Apr 12, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      I’m hoping that the RS give him a ten year extension with an ironclad no trade clause. Hell, I’ll chip in a few bucks to get that deal done.

      I’m actually wondering which was the worse deal, Pavano or Matsuzaka. The RS, regardless of what happens in the future, will at least be able to say that they got one decent year from Matsuzake, lucky or otherwise. But, it also cost the RS 60 million more for that one year.

      • baseballisboring - Apr 12, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        ’07 and ’08 were both decent. Pretty terrible since then. But at least they got something…neither deal was crippling when you consider the payrolls involved. If we were talking about the Padres and Marlins I might say Dice K’s was worse.

  2. Erik Klemetti - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Sadly, I have to agree. It might be time for the Sox to cut bait on Daisuke … Maybe the Mariners want him for, oh, I don’t know, some Top Pot Doughnuts.

    • easports82 - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      No thanks. The Mariners need a few games against him to get the offense started…. as much as that offense can get started anyways.

      • cur68 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Blue Jays bullpen were a big help, so donna you worry, the Mariners offense has had their kick start.

      • marinersnate - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        T’was a great night at the Safe, t’was it not?

      • cur68 - Apr 12, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        t’was NOT.

    • Old Gator - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      Throw in a box of Cow Chip Cookies and a quart of Ivar’s clam chowder and it’s a done deal.

  3. micker716 - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Just wait. Once the Dice Man unleashes the Gyroball our puny American bats will be rendered useless.

  4. aburns77 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    All very fair points Craig, and I think Dice-K’s failures in America speak to how different the styles and levels of play in Japan and MLB really is at least in regards to pitching. I mean I remember Dice-K pitching in WBC before he was on the Sox and he was incredible throwing high heat and locating all of his pitches, what happened to that guy? To be cliche it seems that his once in a lifetime talent has been lost in translation for reasons that no one seems to know.

    • easports82 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      There’s plenty of theories, though:
      1) Less arduous schedule in Japan. I believe the pitch every 6 or 7 days, not every 5.
      2) Different styles. Japan pitchers get by using more side-to-side movement, which doesn’t translate to MLB.
      3) Throwing regiment. Kind of an extension of the first, but there was a lot of talk his first year of the Red Sox pulling him back from the amount of throwing he did between starts in Japan.
      Add in the fact that he’s arm has been dead the last 2 years, and this isn’t a shock at all.

      • aburns77 - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        True, I think you have to say that all of those are definitely contributing factors as to why he hasn’t worked out, I also heard somewhere that the size of the baseball there is slightly smaller but I could be wrong. But more importantly you would have to think that teams would take them in consideration when deciding whether or not to pay these exorbitant posting fees, then again knowing how the league is I’ll bet they’ll be forgotten when it comes time for Yu Darvish to come over here.

      • fengypants - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

        Nick Cafardo had an interesting (and, I think, mostly overlooked) story in last weekend’s Boston Globe based on Bobby Valentine’s perspective on Dice-K.

        Basically, he thinks the Red Sox tinkered with Dice-K too much instead of just letting him pitch like he knew how to pitch. There were other interesting tidbits on cultural differences in there, too. Apparently, in Japan the 3-2 count is “immortalized,” whereas here, it’s just frustrating. I’d read all this stuff in one form or another before, but the conclusion was new – that maybe not having Dice-K adjust at all to the American way of pitching would have been the best thing.

      • aaronmoreno - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

        The “culture” aspect gets thrown around from time to time, but it sure wasn’t a huge deal with Hasegawa, Nomo, or Sasaki. So does his conditioning regimen, which he’s changed a few times in the US. When he first came out here, I remember stupid stuff like, “Will the Japanese sense of honor allow him to shake off his catcher?”

        It all avoids the fact that his fastball sucks and he’s a nibbler. Junkballers may do well in AAA or the Japanese Leagues, but not here.

      • fengypants - Apr 12, 2011 at 1:10 PM

        In that Globe article, Bobby Valentine offers some explanation for why Nomo, at least, is different than Dice-K:

        Valentine points out that Hideo Nomo, who also pitched a season for the Red Sox and had a no-hitter, didn’t have a difficult adjustment because Valentine said he was basically a two-pitch pitcher through his major league career. Matsuzaka is far different. Valentine recalls Matsuzaka had no qualms in Japan about throwing a 3-2 breaking ball, or changeup. He could throw all of his pitches on any count and be effective doing it.

  5. BC - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    He’s lost it. That, and he’s borderline uncoachable and doesn’t take conditioning seriously. And oh yeah, by the way, he’s pitched like 7000 innings. I think his arm may be shot.

  6. garryfish - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    What happen to the infamous Gyroball?

  7. rollinghighwayblues - Apr 12, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I purchased the MLB extra inning package this year so I coud watch the Red Sox games due to me no living in the Northeast. 10 games into the season and I’m wondering if it was worth paying to watch Lackey and Dice K pitch two days out of the week. Dice K might as well start taking crash course English and learning the knuckleball via Wakefield because he’s not fooling any professional hitter with 90mph puss. Lackey is a shell of a pitcher and way overpaid. If Beckett can somehow contain the potion he drank Sunday night and keep his ERA under 4 then the Sox should be in okay shape.

  8. cur68 - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Dice K’s pitches don’t move enough & I do believe he tips his fastball to the batter. I thought his delivery was subtly different for the fastball; faster, higher arm swing and his head moving forward more. It sure seemed like the Rays knew when that muffin was coming. He really aught to break out the gyro; what’s he got to lose?

  9. Ace - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Truly, Daisuke has never been very good, only very, very lucky. Those gaudy 2008 numbers are a mirage. Maybe one of the luckiest seasons by a pitcher ever. He somehow held opponents 0-15 with the bases loaded, which is just crazy. And if this isn’t a perfect illustration of the value of advanced stats for predicting player regression, I don’t know what is:

    xFIP ERA
    2008: 4.64 2.90
    2009 4.75 5.76
    2010 4.54 4.69

    That xFIP has stayed quite steady; his ERA has simply caught up as his luck has run out.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Maybe he can go hang out with Kei Igawa.

    I’m not sure what the technical reason for the ineffectiveness would be, but I know it is not a release point issue. This is a pretty remarkable bit from pitch fx tool.

  11. beantownsports247 - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Id much rather have aceves at the back of the rotation then dice suck . Even his pitching motion pisses me off that dumb ass lil 2 step he does before he throws it , go play in Japan were sick of you . Shit give me Mark Prior over that bumb .

  12. pisano - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Let’s face it the Red Sox were sold a bill of goods that this guy is the real deal. Hell, the Yankees were screwed with that other piece of shit Kei Igawa, the only difference is while the Sox paid twice as much at least they got one good season out of Dice-K. You can’t judge these guys by what they do in Japan it’s a different game there than it is here. I feel our scouts will be more prudent about who they sign in the future, That 101 mil. could have been spent more wisely than it was.

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 12, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      Yeah, but the Yankees got a discount, their Japanese bust only cost 40 Million.

  13. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 12, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    wait until he runs up against the Yankees in July at the stadium, he will be
    on the first plane to Japan from La Guadia.

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