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Terry Collins thinks Daisuke Matsuzaka could be a closer

Apr 24, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

Daisuke Matsuzaka AP

Daisuke Matsuzaka has made three relief appearances for the Mets since shifting to the bullpen and he’s been not terrible in them with one run allowed and seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings, so naturally manager Terry Collins is now talking him up as a potential closer.

Seriously.

Matsuzaka has a combined 5.36 ERA in six seasons since a strong 2008 for the Red Sox, but Collins told Mike Vorkunov of the Newark Star Ledger there’s “no question about it” when asked if the 33-year-old right-hander has what it takes to thrive in the closer role.

Collins also said:

The adjustments he made at the end of the season, those walks went away. The command of all his pitches got much better. We saw that this spring.

To which I’d say … we’ll see. Matsuzaka has been bad enough for long enough that a few good relief outings should hardly convince anyone that he’s turned the corner into a valuable bullpen asset. And while Collins says “those walks went away” Matsuzaka has actually walked eight batters in 16 innings this season between Triple-A and the majors.

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  1. xdj511 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Well considering that the Mets are already on their third closer this season – Parnell – one appearance and tore his UCL – Valverde quickly pitched himself out of the role – and now Farnsworth who is near the end of the line – pretty much anyone with a pulse has a shot at nailing that job down right about now – how the heck is this team at .500?

    • nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      Uuh…there are these other aspects to a Major League Baseball team called “starting pitching” and “defense.”

      • jamaicanjasta - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        And other aspects like “having played the D-Backs for a series which inflated the win total”

      • nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Every team has weaker opponents on their schedule at some point, but hey, let’s ignore that pesky little fact. Because this is the New York Mets and god forbid they ever get any credit for anything. lolMets narrativ3 rite guiz, rite?! Haha

      • xdj511 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        The Mets have also taken two of three so far from the defending NL champs. Next up, the Feesh… and they’re going to miss Jose Fernandez

  2. doctorofsmuganomics - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    better than Valverde

  3. renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    “Goro Shigeno” could be the next version 2, anime MAJOR character reference. I’m pretty sure Koji Uehara’s the original version. Hope this new role works out for him if this happens.

  4. nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Despite your snarky headline and petty swipes at Matsuzaka, he’s been a steady, reliable veteran arm for this team and he’s handled shuttling between the rotation and bullpen, Triple-A and the Major Leagues, etc. with class and grace.

    He’s earned the opportunity to pitch in higher-leverage situations whether you like it or not and, unlike you, I’ll be rooting for him to succeed and not fail.

    • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      I think Matsuzaka gets a bad rap because he never lived up to the high expectations when he came over from Japan. No, he didn’t deserve that contract. But he also is a pitcher who has some potential if he can stay healthy. I hope he succeeds, too.

    • doctorofsmuganomics - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      Careful, you might fall off your high horse there

    • chunkala - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Petty swipes? The guy was christened as the best player (not only pitcher) in the world. Maybe that’s not fair but if he didn’t believe that, he should have came out and said it right away.
      He was paid so much money and was so very terrible. Yes, he can eat innings, but do you think that’s worth the money he’s received? More clueless Met fan nonsense.

      • nymets4ever - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        I don’t care about his failures in Boston, I was talking about what he’s done for the Mets for way less money and with way lower expectations, idiot

  5. yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Dice-BB has a lifetime 5.78 ERA in the first inning, but hey, crazier things have happened.

    If they’re this desperate, they should give Vic Black a chance. He hasn’t allowed an earned run 7 1/3 IP in that bounce house in AAA Las Vegas. Try not to look at his walk rate.

    • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      I see little reason to think his ERA in the first inning starting will be predictive of his performance in relief. It’s a whole different approach when you’re only going out there for one inning.

      After a total of three relief appearances, it’s a bit early to anoint Matsuzaka closer, but I don’t see it as such an outlandish idea in principle. Lots of struggling starters have been converted to dominant relievers.

    • xdj511 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      I think the Mets saw Vic Black as a “closer of the future” when they got him from the Pirates last year in the Byrd/Buck deal. He struggled mightily this spring and didn’t even make the team so maybe they’re just trying to build him up a little more before he gets his shot.

    • rayswhitesuit - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      Luckily, as a potential closer, he won’t be pitching in the first inning!

  6. yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    How many struggling starters have made the conversion to dominant closer @ the age of 33?

    I can count them on one finger.

    • jwbiii - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      John Smoltz was 34.

      • yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        To quote Joe Namath, “struggling” was the qualifier here. Smoltz was coming back from injury, but he was an excellent SP before and after his fireman duties.

    • dan1111 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      There are plenty of pitchers who struggled as starters and then dominated as relievers.

      Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, and Eric Gagne all struggled as starters before becoming outstanding closers. Isringhausen struggled and had injuries as a starter before becoming a dominant closer. They all started for just a season or two, though.

      Latroy Hawkins and Jose Mesa each pitched over 500 terrible innings as a starter before being converted to relatively successful relievers. More recently, Luke Hochevar was horrible as a starter for an extended period, then dominated as a reliever last season.

      • yahmule - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Nathan, Rivera and Izzy converted before they were 30, so did the PED creation Gagne. You concede the other guys you mentioned fell short of any reasonable definition of dominant, so, yeah, Eck is the only guy to do it at the age Matsuzaka is now. Eck also had a way more successful run as starter than Dice. Better than everybody we’ve mentioned here actually.

  7. jwbiii - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    On the bright side, closers only throw about 60 innings, so that’s fewer painfully slow innings for Mets fans than if he were starting.

  8. insidefastball - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    This could be entertaining

    • sdbunting - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:25 AM

      Overruled.

  9. matt14gg - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Gonna be awful tough for a guy who hates to throw strikes to be a closer.

  10. nymets4ever - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    Aaaand Dice-K just got his first Major League save yesterday. Meanwhile, you’re still nothing more than a skinny little two-bit blogger clown, son. I bet you’re fuming right now that Dice-K proved your ass dead wrong. Haha

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