Dice-K Showing Surprising Value to Mets Pitching Staff
Considering the collective groans his first three disastrous starts induced last August when Daisuke Matsuzaka was lifted off the scrap heap by the Mets after Matt Harvey’s elbow injury was revealed, Dice-K’s emergence as a valuable and versatile cog on the Mets’ 2014 staff is one of the more pleasant developments over the first two months of this season.
Dice-K pitched very well in spring training, but the Mets chose Jenrry Mejia for the fifth spot in the rotation at the beginning of the season and sent an annoyed Matsuzaka back to Triple-A Las Vegas to start the year. Since he’s returned to the majors, Dice-K has shown his worth in a number of roles, from middle relief to closing to, most recently, starting again.
When the Mets and Diamondbacks were forced into playing a Sunday doubleheader over the weekend, Dice-K turned in six brilliant innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs, with one walk and six strikeouts, as the Mets salvaged Game 2 of the twinbill and one game from an otherwise frustrating three-game series against Arizona.
Matsuzaka is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA for the Mets. And in case anyone was wondering why Kirk Gibson loaded the Diamondbacks’ lineup with right-handed hitters against the righty-throwing Matsuzaka, it’s because left-handed batters this season are batting .081 (!) against him. That’s 3-for-37. In fact, righties have just a .167 average against Dice-K, whose overall batting-average-against in 27 innings this season is an almost unthinkable .132.
In 2008, the Japanese veteran was 18-3 for the Red Sox, but between 2009 and 2012, he never had an ERA below 4.69. All but one of his appearances in those years was as a starter for the Red Sox. But now, recast as a staff utilityman for the Mets at the age of 33, Daisuke Matsuzaka has gone from a spare part to a castoff that the Mets would be insane to throw back at this point.