The Most Frustrating Pitcher Ever?
Ok, maybe using hyperbole there, as much of this may have derived from the “subjective.” But to watch a pitcher with as much talent as Daisuke try and paint the corners on nearly every pitch, is definitely frustrating. There have been many pitchers from the past that come up or over and just don’t turn out to be what their “stuff” indicated they should become. I guess that would be much more frustrating than watching a pitcher perform pretty well, but running up high pitch counts, and racking up more early exits than most “effective” starters do. I am not complaining, as watching Matsuzaka exit with one out in the 6th after walking 5, all while giving up only one or two earned runs, probably isn’t as terrible as watching say…Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera, a supposed hot-head with very good stuff, one whom lights up the radar gun, has been no better than aveerage over his career. As a whole, Cabrera has been below average. So I will take Dice-K over him almost any day of the week.
Yet still, my emotions run wild during a Matsuzaka start. I am at a point where I try not to get TOO caught up in a single game, as it is a very long season (unless of course it is Red Sox-Yankees). But when Daisuke takes the hill, and pitches well one inning, then walks two the next inning…only to escape. Then the following inning strikes out two, then lets a few baserunners on after those two outs…It is frustrating. And I think that some of it is mechanical, but ultimately mental.
Scout? No, I am not. But that does not mean that I cannot see Daisuke deviate from a motion that had been working for five or so innings. Using last night’s game as an example: The first inning was rough. Two quick outs followed by a walk, an infield single, and another walk. Then Daisuke pulls one of his many “miracles” out of a bag that seems to be full of them…a groundout and the inning is over. But something happened, the next five innings Daisuke settled in very nicely, hitting the majority of his spots, and walking only a single batter. Trouble alluded him because he prevented it from doing so. Funny how that works. In the seventh though, Matsuzaka seemed to be doing something slightly different mechanically, and all of a sudden his pitches were all over the place. With a little luck, he escaped trouble once again, but this time he did not avoid getting himself into it. But what was he doing wrong? I am sure that if I were to watch video of it, I could pick something up. But I am no scout, and in a pitchers duel, a gem of a game, I had more important stuff to worry about, to concentrate on. A win, to be exact.
This has to be a problem of concentration. Not repeating the exact same motion, I would assume, is mostly mental. Unless there was an injury preventing one from doing so. I used to pitch in high school, only a few actual game innings on the mound, but I never had to worry about a repeated delivery. I just went out and threw the ball, mixing in my below average circle change, with my below average curveball…and a fastball that wasn’t slow, but wasn’t ever located properly. I didn’t understand the “logistics” of fastball locating at the age of 16, and was without MLB.TV to watch every night (to learn from the pros). Anyway, the point I was making is that I never had to go through any of the issues that a lot of pitchers go through. I never pitched enough to have a coach come tell me to focus because I am straying away from my delivery, nor did I ever establish an exact delivery. But Dice-K has. He knows the ins and outs and every little thing that goes on during his delivery (as do his well educated coaching staff). Yet, time and time again, the ball ends up in the dirt. Time and time again, the ball ends up a little up, rather than outside where Varitek sets up.
But again, I am not complaining. I just want to see Daisuke repeat his mechanics properly, to get the most effectiveness out of his vast repertoire of pitches. After all, I am a fan. And he is one of the best pitchers on the team that I cheer for. The walks, the high pitch counts, they are fixable. Yet, at this point, it is up to him to put an end to them. And it is very possible to do this, Daisuke just needs to focus.
(Note: Overall, very good performance by Dice K last night against the Twins, but he still looked a little shaky mechanically, in two of the seven full innings that he pitched, and a little shaky in the beginning of the 8th too).