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DiceK Shows the Miles

Joe Morgan -- Crown King of MLB (TM) Pride -- opined, before DiceK took the mound against Roy Oswalt, that (1) Oswalt would win, (2) DiceK would start walking people, because intimidated by MLB (TM) hitters, and (3) that the only reason the MLB (TM) guys weren't winning was because it was "a tournament atmosphere" (in which accidents could happen). Later in the game, after DiceK and Team Japan crushed Oswalt and America, a more subdued Morgan marvelled at DiceK's ability to make great pitches in deep counts, and recommended he stop pitching as though he were "intimidated" by the names he grew up idolizing. ...................... There's a competing theory here:  that DiceK REALIZES a centered fastball could easily be hit for a home run by hulking American hitters. Morgan obviously sees this as jumping at shadows.  But supposing Matsuzaka is two steps ahead of us, rather than two steps behind?  What if he is the one who has correctly diagnosed what happens when he gets too much of the plate against an Adam Dunn? Matsuzaka obviously loathes, hates, and despises seeing pitches fly over the fence.  He was so blinkin' CAREFUL, pitching for the Red Sox, that he gave up a microscopic 12 home runs in 2008 -- in Fenway Park! Matsuzaka isn't 5BB-a-game wild.  He NIBBLES, until it's a deep count, and then he "reaches back" for 93 fastballs on the black.   Morgan and Phillips observed this same thing:  Matsuzaka is a throwback to the days of Christy Mathewson, when pitchers would "save" their best stuff (including their fastballs-into-a-teacup) for a pinch. .......................... That said, Matsuzaka pitches tired these days. In the first inning, he looks like he's thrown 100 pitches.   On pitches outside to RH, inside to LH, Matsuzaka jerks his head and pulls across his body, rather than finishing out in front -- just as pitchers do when they're fatigued in a game. Sometimes we forget that Matsuzaka was ridden unmercifully in the Japanese major leagues.  He's got a lot of miles on that arm, and his arm is showing it. ............................. It was a joy to watch Johjima-san and Matsuzaka-san's synchronized swimming routine.  Obviously very comfortable with one another, they worked in perfect rhythm, zero shakeoffs that I ever noticed, and subtle body-language communication all night long.  I even noticed that Johjima could set up his mitt in the "wrong" location, to deceive "peekers" like David Wright, without disrupting DiceK one whit.  Imagine the howls and protests from Seattle Mariners pitchers if Johjima attempted to play with this level of sophistication. We still say that the Red Sox should look into acquiring Johjima.  *All* of his home runs are aimed directly down the LF line, nice and high. ............................... So Matsuzaka's arsenal, these days, consists of:
An 88-92 fastball, mediocre command, nibbled around the black Four different so-so offspeed pitches, thrown for strikes at will
Until he wants to reach back, muscle up, and accept the pain, at which time he has
A 93-95 fastball, on the black A 90-91 tight-spin slider Three different offspeed pitches, thrown to locations
DiceK is showing the mileage.  I'd have loved to have seen MLB deal with him when his arm was fresh.  But don't kid yourself that he's still not a Top of the Rotation starter, because he sure as shootin' is. B'lee DAT, Dr D