Still, put Daisuke Matsuzaka in any city, and it's likely the fans would be losing their love for a guy who was supposed to be among the best pitchers on the planet. Though he's shown in two World Baseball Classic tournaments that he can elevate his game on the world stage, he has yet to be able to bring an ace-like presence to the Red Sox on a consistent basis.
As he prepares for the 76th major league start of his career on Tuesday night, the question begs to be asked: Will Matsuzaka ever be a consistent starter?
Supporters will point to his 2008 season, when he posted an 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting. Detractors will point out that his 94 walks led the league, and he averaged just 5 2/3 innings per start. Supporters will point out how dominant he's been with the bases loaded, allowing opposing hitters to hit just .157 with five walks in 59 plate appearances. Detractors will point out the fact that Matsuzaka was the one who loaded the bases in the first place.
Thus far, Matsuzaka's been a bit of a mystery to anyone who's spent a lifetime watching the game of baseball. At times, his stuff looks electric, yet that often changes from one inning to the next. This season, it's been much of the same. His season debut, which was pushed back due to neck and back issues in spring training, featured the 29-year-old looking strong through four innings. Then came the fifth, when a 4-1 Red Sox lead quickly turned into a 7-4 Orioles lead. In his follow-up performance, Matsuzaka got his issues out of the way early, giving up four runs in the first inning against the Angels. In that one, he was able to settle down and go 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first win of the year.
With start No. 3 on the way, what can we expect to see? Looking at the larger picture, what will we be seeing over the next three years?
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May 10: Can Red Sox still make the playoffs?
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