Daisuke Rolling, Ellsbury Back, Colorado Catchers

Red Sox' starting pitcher Matsuzaka walks to the dugout at the end of the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York
Daisuke Rolling With all the issues the Red Sox rotation has faced this season, there is nothing better than to see Daisuke Matsuzaka stepping up into at the right time. Throwing a one-hitter in Philadelphia on Saturday, there has been some speculation that Daisuke may be taking that long-awaited leap to respectability. However, other than two stellar starts sandwiching his New York meltdown, there has been a little to be excited about this year. Daisuke just hasn't changed at all from years past to indicate that any sustainable change is in the works. His zone percentage at a career low (46.4 percent), his first-strike percentage largely unchanged (56.6 percent in 2010 v 59.5 percent, career), and his zone contact percentage in line with his career line (84.9 percent, 2010 v 84.2 percent, career), it seems we are dealing with the Daisuke of old again this season.
Red Sox' starting pitcher Matsuzaka walks to the dugout at the end of the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York

Daisuke Rolling

With all the issues the Red Sox rotation has faced this season, there is nothing better than to see Daisuke Matsuzaka stepping up into at the right time. Throwing a one-hitter in Philadelphia on Saturday, there has been some speculation that Daisuke may be taking that long-awaited leap to respectability.

However, other than two stellar starts sandwiching his New York meltdown, there has been a little to be excited about this year. Daisuke just hasn’t changed at all from years past to indicate that any sustainable change is in the works.

His zone percentage at a career low (46.4 percent), his first-strike percentage largely unchanged (56.6 percent in 2010 v 59.5 percent, career), and his zone contact percentage in line with his career line (84.9 percent, 2010 v 84.2 percent, career), it seems we are dealing with the Daisuke of old again this season.

Though his walk rate has dipped below 4.00 per nine (3.94 BB/9) for the first time since 2007, much of it can be attributed to his career-high 83.8 contact percentage. Simply put, if batters make more contact, the at-bat ends sooner and eliminates the possibility for a walk.

Still, his contact percentage will likely revert back to his career rate of 77.9 percent when batters start whiffing more outside the zone. With a shockingly high 81.7 O-Contact percentage, it is unlikely that batters will continue to put balls in play at this exorbitant rate. Expect the contact rate to drop, the Ks to rise, and with it, the walks.

It won’t take too long, but we’re sure to get back to the Daisuke we all love — and hate — in short order.  He should still be serviceable at that point, but don’t expect him to move mountains like he did Saturday.  Still, considering Beckett’s woes accompanied by the team’s desperate need for stability, a solid fourth starter will be a valuable asset for the reeling rotation.

Ellsbury Back

… and not a day too soon.

Having missed over a month (37 games) due to rib maladies, the young center-left fielder will be a welcome addition to the Boston lineup. Making his post-injury debut on Saturday, going 1-for-9 since his reinstallment in the lineup, it may be a few days before Ellbsury rediscovers his groove at the plate. But, not to worry, he’ll back back hitting and stealing bases in no time.

While the team still awaits the return of incumbent centerfielder Mike Cameron, Ellsbury will provide some welcome relief to a beleaguered outfield — one that is now facing hip and calf injuries to its starting right fielder, J.D. Drew. Drew is hitting very well recently amidst the team’s injury woes, it’s curious that Drew hasn’t missed more time lately due to his nagging maladies. Perhaps facing pressure to remain in the lineup given the lack of depth in the outfield, it will be interesting to see how Drew is handled in the coming days with Ellsbury back.

Also of interest will be the shuffling of the lineup now that Ellsbury has returned to the leadoff spot.

Tito mixing the lineup every which way in recent days — including placing Drew at leadoff — the competition between David Ortiz and J.D. Drew in the middle of the lineup bears watching. Drew having hit third on Saturday (with Ortiz at fourth) and fifth on Sunday (Ortiz out of the lineup), it will be difficult to get a judge on any consistent developments until the team returns from the National League parks. With V-Mart and Youkilis solid at three and four, Drew and Ortiz will likely split time at fifth and six.

With Ortiz hitting well of late, he may have the leg up on the fifth spot against righties.  However, it is unlikely, even with his recent surge, that he’ll ever sniff cleanup again any time soon — if at all this season.

Categories: Chris Iannetta Daisuke Matsuzaka David Ortiz J.D. Drew Jacoby Ellsbury Michael McKenry

11 Responses to “Daisuke Rolling, Ellsbury Back, Colorado Catchers” Subscribe

  1. Tim Daloisio May 24, 2010 at 10:15 AM #

    So…does that mean that Colorado catchers are in fact coming soon to the Red Sox? or that you've got content that hasn't yet posted ;)

    • Mike_Silver May 24, 2010 at 11:28 AM #

      HaHa. I hope they're coming soon. I'm awaiting approval on that portion of the article to make sure that nothing sensitive gets through on the Sky Sox side. Don't need any conflict of interest or leaks getting through.

  2. WayneRoy May 24, 2010 at 6:24 PM #

    Hey Mike, I just read your bit at ESPNs power rankings and I must ask, what is your definition of momentum. Because if winning 5 of 6 by bludgeoning the defending champs, defending NL champs and a very good Twins team, getting dominating performances from 4 of 5 starters, star players returning from injury, Papi back from the grave etc. etc. doesn't do it for you I don't know what to say. This team has ALL the momentum going into this series.

    • pmcgrath11 May 24, 2010 at 10:15 PM #

      I agree. Papi's on fire. Pitching looks great. Ellsbury's back. A thorough beating of the first place team tonight. Things are looking good for the Sox.

    • sam May 25, 2010 at 1:12 PM #

      I totally agree. I was shocked to see the Sox ranked so low; they went 5-1, all against contending teams, the starters are back, offense is strong, etc. This is the Boston team we hoped for at the beginning of the year. Sure their overall record is still unimpressive, but considering just last week, I would have expected them to have jumped quite a bit in the rankings, and they DEFINITELY have a lot of momentum going for them.

    • Mike_Silver May 25, 2010 at 4:51 PM #

      Let's get something straight. First, they didn't "bludgeon" anyone. They squeaked out a win against the Yanks, then won a few games against the Twins and Phillies. A good stretch, yes, but even the Royals can win 5 out of 6.

      And let's be reasonable here. They just lost their Ace. That's a momentum killer no matter how many games in a row you've won.

      • WayneRoy May 25, 2010 at 6:11 PM #

        Are you seriously saying this team hasn't been largely hitting the cover off the ball lately? They certainly bludgeoned Davis last night. Smacked Halladay and Liriano around pretty good. Down 5-0 in 2 straight to the Yanks and "bludgeoned" their way back both times. Get your momentum meter checked.

      • sam May 25, 2010 at 10:53 PM #

        Sox just won again. No bludgeoning, but are you going to tell me that wasn't a solid win? Some great pitching by Lester and the bullpen, and timely hitting for a good 2-0 win over Tampa. Looks like the Sox have lots of momentum right now. Hmmm…

  3. Tyler May 25, 2010 at 1:04 PM #

    How was daisuke never respectable? 4 ERA his FIRST year, one under 3 his second, he may not have pitched 200 innings but he has been RESPECTABLE at least!

    • Daern May 25, 2010 at 1:49 PM #

      ERA is not a very good measuring stick. His walk rate, IP, and price tag mean he was not respectable.

      • sam May 25, 2010 at 10:56 PM #

        In his second year he was a top five candidate for the Cy Young. A sub-3 ERA, 18 wins, over all it was a good year. Yes, he didn't go deep in games and walked a bunch of guys. But that's gotta be respectable, however you look at it. If price tag gets involved, then this is becoming a pretty silly argument. "reasonable" performance means your -performance-. And by reasonable, I would say above league average in most stats would make you a reasonable starter, and Dice-K has fulfilled that. Now, he's been a disappointment to his contract, yes. But he still has given us some solid pitching.