Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Sox are Turning Every Opposing Pitcher into Dice-K

Yeah, you remember Dice-K, right? Wouldn’t stop nibbling? Couldn’t throw strikes? Walked the park every inning. Somehow managed to go 18-3 one year with a 2.90 ERA but a 1.32 WHIP?

People called it maddening. Frustrating. Terrible.

I always wondered if it was genius.

After all, it wasn’t anything new. He threw a TON of pitches while he was a legend in Japan. Heck, it took him like 200 pitches to beat high schoolers.

What if it was all part of a master plan? What if he sat down before a game, looked over the opposing line-up, and circled the ones he knew he couldn’t get out, and crossed off the ones he knew he could easily get out. If he found 5 guys in the line-up he knew he could strike out, he was all set. The rest of the guys could get on base, but they wouldn’t score if the other guys made outs. He had amazing numbers with the bases loaded. Took him forever one year before he gave up his first hit in that situation. Think back to the number of times you remember him walking the bases loaded, but striking out the side without a run scoring.

Maddening, or genius?

Sound a little bit like the 2014 Red Sox? They’re near the top of the league in OBP, but near the bottom of the league in runs scored. Why? Because the opposing teams are like Daisuke.

Injuries have caused quite a few players to have more important roles than the Sox ever expected. It was supposed to be Bradley or Sizemore…not both. And neither one of them was ever supposed to be protection for Ortiz. Ever. But, that’s what has had to happen. Other teams have apparently figured out how to take advantage of it.

They’re following Daisuke’s plan. Sure, the top four batters have a pretty good chance to get one base, but they can probably make their way around the rest. So, if Xander gets a double, and Pedroia grounds out to advance him to third, just walk Ortiz. Then, you are pretty much assured of striking out Sizemore. Then, you just need to get the next guy. They gave up two baserunners, but no runs. Just like Dice-K did.

Which is why it’s so easy to have hope for this season. When everyone is back healthy, those automatic outs won’t be there. Even if they don’t return to peak form. Victorino doesn’t need to be an all-star. He needs to hit .270. He needs to make contact in order to drive in that guy from third. The team was supposed to have one automatic out in it. If everyone else is at least average, it makes everything different. Balls start finding holes. Herrera doesn’t strike out in key points. While every hitter isn’t exactly dangerous, he’s at least competent. Suddenly, keeping Bradley in just for his defense isn’t such a problem anymore. A pitcher can’t pitch around eight guys to get to one.

He can pitch around four to get to five.

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