About the rotation…

I realize last night’s start did nothing to inspire confidence in Daisuke Matsuzaka. Throwing four wild pitches in one game is not exactly what anybody had in mind when the Sox reactivated Dice-K for this start. I do give him a little bit of leeway, since this was his first start back from the DL and he was working with a new catcher who speaks a different language than him. Even so, there is no excuse for his lack of command last night. Look at the PITCHf/x data – his fastball was all over the place, the slider was in the upper half of the zone about 50% of the time, and he was inconsistent with the changeup and curveball, when he risked throwing them at all. For a guy who’s all about honoring the game and his country, that was a shameful performance. Get it together, Dice-K!

Red Sox starters now have a 5.36 ERA in 2009. Only the dreadful Orioles and Indians are worse in that department, and opposing hitters have hit them hard. Still, not everything is lost. Sox starters have suffered from a poor 68.9% strand rate, and teams can not keep hitting .287 with a .333 BABIP against them. FIP has the staff ERA at 4.62, which ranks right in the middle of AL staffs. Not quite as discouraging, but still far below expectations coming into this year. What we need is improved defense and improved command from our veteran top 3.

Meanwhile, John Smoltz didn’t exactly dominate in his 3rd rehab start. The newly-married 42-year old can still bring it, so we should expect to see him up here within a week or two. His arrival will likely mean a trade for Brad Penny, who’s been relatively solid compared with the rest of the rotation. Jon Lester is taking his lumps, but it’s often one problem inning or one problem pitch that’s hurt him this season. He can and will do better.


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