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Sports of Boston is continuing its week-long preview of the Red Sox starting rotation with its projected #5 starter:
Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-6, 4.69 ERA, 153.2 IP, 133 SO, 74 BB): Was 2010 a good year or a bad year for Matsuzaka? Who knows. In four years, Matsuzaka has thrown 204.2, 167.2, 59.1 and 153.2 innings pitched. Such fluctuation makes it hard to compare one season to another. And that’s what is so frustrating about Matsuzaka: you never know what you’ll get. Between his pitching inconsistency and his reserved demeanor, it’s impossible to tell whether or not Matsuzaka is ever bothered by his performance or learns from his mistakes. He doesn’t appear to, since he keeps making them… until suddenly he doesn’t…. until suddenly he starts again.
Matsuzaka is not an entertaining pitcher to watch, and since sports is still an entertainment business at its core, this makes him one of the biggest busts in recent Red Sox history. His high price-tag only makes it worse. There’s no way to know what to expect this season, but putting him at the bottom of the rotation hopefully minimizes the damage he does to the team. Matsuzaka has won 15+ games twice in four years. If he can do it this season, he will be one of the most productive #5 pitchers in the league.
The Red Sox rotation went 65-39 last season, which means a little over a third of their games were decided by their inconsistent-at-best bullpen. This resulted in an 89-73 record, their fewest wins since 2006. Experience should generate a few more wins for the starters, and the bullpen has been much improved. This should all translate to another season in which the Red Sox win over 95 games.
It all starts in 10 days.