Nikkan Sports reported that Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery for his ulnar collateral ligament. Matsuzaka will likely be out for a year. In eight games this season he was 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA and a WHIP of 1.47. His SO/BB ratio was 1.13, a career low. Daisuke injured his elbow on May 17 in a start against the Orioles.
For Daisuke Matsuzaka this means he will miss the rest of this year, as well as a good portion of next year. Daisuke will be in the final year of his contract next year, so unless he comes back and goes on a giant tear, he will wind up with a one-year deal for 2013 in hopes of earning more the following year.
With Daisuke out for the remainder of the season, Alfredo Aceves will be the leading contender to take his spot in the rotation. In his first two starts this year, Aceves went a combined 11 innings while allowing two runs, striking out eight and walking four. In his third start last Tuesday, he had a rough outing, allowing six earned runs in five innings of work. If Aceves pitches well down the stretch, he might even be able to take the fourth playoff starter spot from John Lackey, who has struggled this year.
Aceves in on a one-year $650,000 deal right now and could earn a substantial raise, either in Boston or elsewhere.
Until John Lackey comes off the DL, Tim Wakefield will still have a chance to try to earn Matsuzaka's rotation spot. Wakefield has started five times this year, averaging 2.8 earned runs over six innings. This gives Wakefield an opportunity to show that he can still start and may be able to pitch another year or two because of this.
For John Lackey, this is good news. Before, the chances that Lackey would keep his spot in the rotation were shrinking every day. Now the only way he could lose his spot is if both Aceves and Wakefield pitch significantly better, justifying putting someone on a $82.5 million contract in the bullpen. Before it would have only taken either one of them, but now Lackey has much better chances of staying in the rotation.
For the Red Sox, this could be a curse or a blessing. While it is never good to see one of your teammates get injured, if Aceves or Wakefield can show that they are able to be reliable starters, this could upgrade their team. If not, the Red Sox may be forced to go out and trade for another starter to help them down the stretch.
Going into next season, this will most likely increase the price of keeping Alfredo Aceves, but will make keeping Matsuzaka, if they decide to do so, cheaper.