After a dreadful beginning with the Mets, Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched fabulously over his last four starts, posting a 3-0 record while recording a quality outing in each of last three starts (only missing a quality outing by one/third of an inning in the start before this stretch).
Matsuzaka was simply dominant in the Mets’ 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon, limiting the Reds to zero runs on four hits and two walks (with six strikeouts) in 7 2/3 innings pitched
In his last four starts, Matsuzaka has completed 26 1/3 innings while giving up just four earned runs on 13 hits and nine walks while also striking out 21 batters.
Can this stretch of good pitching ensure a return for Matsuzaka in orange and blue?
Well, we all know the Mets staff is built on youth and upside and Matsuzaka is the antithesis of that premise. The 33-year-old Japanese veteran is clearly on the back-9 of his career, after pitching most of his career in Boston to mixed results.
In the offseason, Matsuzaka signed with the Indians, but they released him on August 20 after he put up so-so stats (5-8 record, 3.92 ERA and .245 opponents’ batting average in 19 starts) in Columbus (their Triple-A affiliate). The Indians were talking a chance on Matsuzaka after he has since struggled coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2011.
The Mets have long liked the ability of Matsuzaka and with him being a cheap, fallback option for 2014, he can prove to be nice insurance for a team that will rely on some pitching that is young and—let’s face it—not exactly sure bets to stay healthy all season.
We all know the saga involved with Matt Harvey. Then, you also have guys in Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee who have had significant injuries in the last two years. Throw in the recent injuries to Jenrry Mejia and Jeremy Hefner and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to bring in a veteran pitcher than can be had in on the cheap. This way the Mets can be patient with the young arms (Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom) on the farm.
While Bronson Arroyo’s name is being floated out there as a possible addition to the staff, his price tag will likely be significantly higher than that of Matsuzaka.
Obviously, we shouldn’t get excited about the long-term potential of Matsuzaka, but he is veteran pitcher who gets by on deception and guile. He is a good insurance for team in the Mets that just might need it in 2014.
Matsuzaka is by no means an anchor but with the way he finished this season, he should not just be brushed aside and tossed out with the garbage. Maybe he is finally over the problems that plagued him ever since he had Tommy John surgery.
The Mets should think long and hard about bringing him back in the hopes that he finally past his health issues. Maybe now he’s ready to be a contributing factor to a staff in need of some stability.
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