Boston Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka Pitching Himself out of Rotation

Patrick LanguzziContributor IIIMarch 12, 2011

It's been a horrific spring training so far for Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka. 

He's pitched just one clean inning in nine chances this spring. Matsuzaka was hit hard again on Thursday by the Florida Marlins, giving up five hits, five earned runs and two walks in 3.2 innings. 

In his three spring training starts, he's allowed 11 earned runs on 12 hits, five base on balls and three home runs in 8.2 innings. 

But the Boston Red Sox aren't going to panic yet, claims Terry Francona. Matsuzaka's their fifth starter for a reason. 

Still, his performances have been troublesome to watch.

The Red Sox won negotiation rights to Matsuzaka by posting a $51.1 million bid back in November 2006, which led to his six-year, $52 million contract through 2012. He is now in the fifth season of the deal and will make an estimated $10 million in 2011.  

Sure, it's only spring training, but am I the only one losing confidence in Dice-K's ability to pitch? 

It's been 600 innings of ups and downs for the Japanese sensation. He still has a tendency to try to make that perfect pitch, which helps his strikeout rate but not his walk rate or WHIP.

Matsuzaka was quoted as saying, "At this point, I need to think why I didn't perform as I expected." He went on: "I'm not too worried about it."

Well I'm glad he's not worried about it, but I know I am.

In 2008, Matsuzaka posted his best statistical season in a Red Sox uniform, going 18-3 with an ERA of 2.90 and a .211 batting average against. Great, we may have gotten our money's worth that season, but what has Matsuzaka done since?

Matsuzaka has some work to do after underperforming over the last two seasons.

Injuries and control issues have been at the root of his problems. Over the last two years, Matsuzaka has gone 13-12 with a 5.22 ERA.

A downward trend, to say the least, and his performance this spring only adds additional support to what's probable for 2011. But let's hope for the best, right?

The Red Sox probably won't take his rotation spot away from him; he's being paid too much money for that. However, they might find an excuse to put him on the DL this season if his recent performance continues.

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