The Boston Red Sox starting rotation had its issues to start the season but has been improving over the last few weeks. The starters are now going deeper in games and not allowing as many runs as they did previously. Who would've thought this could be done with Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront at the back of the rotation?
Well, the Red Sox clearly did. Despite the growth of the two young starters, there is still another guy waiting for his shot this season: Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Daisuke has been recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow that only allowed him to start seven games this season. Now, primarily healthy, he's recently been rehabbing with Triple-A Pawtucket to try and make it back to Boston.
In his first rehab start, with Single-A Salem, he went four innings, allowing three runs on six hits including two home runs. His next start, then with Double-A Portland, went much smoother, as he only allowed one run in 4.2 innings and struck out seven.
His first start with Pawtucket was also very good. This time, he didn't allow any runs in 4.2 innings while walking three and striking out four. In his fourth total start, he was pretty bad. In 5.1 innings of work, he allowed five runs, two being home runs, on seven hits.
After that inconsistency, Boston manager Bobby Valentine told ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald that Matsuzaka still isn't ready.
I don't think he's all that close to be pitching in the major leagues. He might take a big step, but not until he's ready. It's not the calendar that will dictate when he pitches in the major leagues.
In his most recent start, Matsuzaka struggled again. He allowed five runs (four earned) in 6.2 innings on seven hits while striking out three.
Will Daisuke Matsuzaka return to his 2008 form?
Through five rehab starts throughout the Boston minor league system, Matsuzaka is 0-2 with a 4.62 ERA in 25.1 innings. He has allowed 14 runs (13 earned) on 25 hits, six being home runs, while he has struck out 22 and walked six.
Matsuzaka reiterated Valentine's comments after the game with reporters, through an interpreter.
I feel the same way as Bobby. I'm not ready to pitch in the majors yet, especially after an outing like my previous outing. But if I'm able to consistently pitch like I did today, then I don't think my return to the majors is that far away.
Matsuzaka's rehab stint will expire on May 23. From there, Boston will either have to call him up to the majors or try to convince the Commissioner's office that he suffered a setback and needs more time to rehab.