Earlier this week, the Boston Red Sox confirmed that RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka will undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. The surgery is expected to take place next week.
While it remains a possibility that Dice-K will return in the second half of next season with the Red Sox, this surgery is the unofficial end of his career in a Boston uniform. His career in Boston can be summed up best as "disappointing."
At the end of the day, Dice-K has a 4.25 ERA, 8.2 K/9 ratio and has produced a 10.4 WAR over five years in Boston. Overall, those numbers aren’t so bad. But because Dice-K has been mediocre for so long, I think people forget what this guy was supposed to be.
When the Red Sox pursued Dice-K in the winter of 2006, he was supposed to be the Ichiro Suzuki of pitching. He was coming off a season with the Seibu Lions in which he went 17-5 and had a 2.13 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 186.1 IP.
In Boston, he was supposed to be an ace. He was supposed to be a No. 1 guy. He was supposed to have a pitch called the “Gyro ball” that baffled hitters.
Sadly, for Red Sox fans, he wasn’t nor had any of the above.
Dice-K could never adjust to the American game. He was a nibbler. He walked almost 4.5 batters per nine innings and watching him pitch was sometimes worse than taking accounting in college.
Even in his best year, which was 2008, he was at most a five-inning pitcher. He was the pure definition of lucky that season. He won 18 games despite pitching only 167.2 innings and leading the league in walks.
His typical line from that season was 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 K. He can thank his bullpen and a LOB percentage of 80 percent for those wins.
Perhaps Dice-K’s finest moment in a Boston uniform was Game 1 of the 2008 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. He was the Dice-K we all thought we were getting when the Red Sox paid a posting fee of $51 million and then signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract.
He was aggressive. He had all 20 of his pitches working that night. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He was the man.
The Red Sox won that game 2-0 in large part because of Dice-K’s brilliant performance. He was something he has rarely been in a Boston uniform—a pleasure to watch.
Since the 2008 season, Dice-K has only started 44 games and has been relegated to fourth- or fifth-starter status. In this day and age of few quality starting pitchers, anytime a team loses one, it hurts. But the Red Sox will move on from Dice-K. My guess is they felt like anything he gave them this year would have been a bonus.
Dice-K’s 2011 season is over and, in turn, essentially ends one of the most disappointing careers in a Red Sox uniform.
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