The righty, who was perhaps the most hyped Sox signing in decades, has spent the past few months rehabbing his arm and experiencing various complications along the way.
But at long last, Matsuzaka will make his return to the mound against the young and somewhat offensively threatening Washington Nationals on Saturday. The question now becomes, how effective can he be?
Matsuzaka currently holds a 49-30 career record with a career 4.25 ERA and 568 strikeouts. But if you look at Dice-K's track record since entering the league in 2007, you will very quickly notice a startling trend in his record. In 2007, his debut season, Daisuke went 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA. The following year, he posted an 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA.
But in 2009, Daisuke appeared in only 12 games and went 4-6 on the year. After pitching in the World Baseball Classic prior to spring training, Daisuke found himself on and off the disabled list due to apparant weakness in his throwing arm.
In 2010 he went 9-6 through 25 games, showing some improvement. But the improvement relapsed in 2011 and Matsuzaka went 3-3 through eight games before being placed on the disabled list — for the rest of the season, as we would later find out.
Now, the Red Sox will need him to step up and fill the void that Daniel Bard left when he was demoted to Pawtucket. With the team hovering around .500 on the year, Matsuzaka could be the spark to get the team moving in the right direction. Then again, after being away from the big leagues for so long, it's anyone's guess as to how effective he can be.