When it comes to Japanese pitchers in American baseball, the same sentiments have always come about, they don’t perform well. Lately, the exceptions to that rule have been Hiroki Kuroda, Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish. In his first few years with the Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka was also thought to be the next “lights-out” pitcher from Japan, but he struggled ever since having a fantastic 2008.
Who’s to say that maybe a team like the Milwaukee Brewers should disregard him flat out?
Since his release by the Cleveland Indians, Matsuzaka is currently looking for a team that will want the 32 year-old veteran. Recently, Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin said that the organization wasn’t interested in Matsuzaka because of the starters the team already has. The one motto that has drummed throughout baseball is that you can never have enough pitching. Sure, Matsuzaka didn’t make an impact with the Indians this season, but if you could find him at the right price, it’s not really a losing situation here.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was one of the Red Sox’s best starters in 2008. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Okay, so after Daisuke’s first two successful seasons in the majors, it’s true things kind of spiraled out of control for the right-hander. In 2009 and 2012, Matsuzaka had an ERA over 5.75 in both seasons, but also those were seasons in which he pitched in less than 60 innings. Sure, it’s a small sample size that can be taken either way, but Matsuzaka was also in one of the toughest divisions inside of the American League East. Of course, pitching in the National League Central is no cakewalk, but it’s a different change of pace.
Matsuzaka has actually pitched in less innings per season since his 204.2 innings in 2007, which certainly doesn’t speak high volumes about a pitcher, but he can give you at least 150. It’s honestly hard to say that Matsuzaka had a terrible 2011 and 2012 since they were short due to Tommy John surgery and rehab, but his 2010 was average at best. Nobody would expect Matsuzaka to throw ace stuff in a Milwaukee rotation, but he’s had some years on him that frankly could help this team considering the situation now.
The problem that Melvin saw with potentially signing Matsuzaka wasn’t his prior successes and failures, but rather his confidence in the Brewers’ rotation, a confidence that I’ll say is almost naive in a child like sense. Yes, Kyle Lohse has performed well all season and Wily Peralta is starting to get the hang of it, but other than those two, who does Milwaukee even have? Yovani Gallardo has been tagged left and right this season, Marco Estrada has been shaky and they’ve been spot starting Tom Gorzelanny who seems to be just losing it. Not to mention their indecisiveness with Tyler Thornburg isn’t doing the starting rotation any favors.
I’m not saying that if the Brew Crew were to expand pitching wise and sign Matsuzaka that their troubles would be erased. The Indians certainly had more than enough pitching to carry them over the hump even with Daisuke in Triple-A, so it’s a nice back-up plan to fall on.
Regardless, Melvin wants to go with the guys we already have so Matsuzaka will not be wearing Brewer Blue. I can’t say I disagree with Melvin in this case, but you have to at least consider the situation the team is heading in towards 2014. The starting rotation is a toss-up and are the younger pitchers in the minors really ready to take over these starting roles? If not, that’s why Matsuzaka might have been a decent signing. Even if Daisuke weren’t to throw a stellar season, an average year at best would at least be better than the inconsistencies the team faces now.