Last night Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched the Mets to victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, snapping the Amazins’ six-game losing streak. "Dice-K" pitched a very effective game, allowing three hits and one run in six innings, while striking out five. He didn’t dominate the Brewers, allowing three walks, but he kept the Mets in the game and gave them the chance for the rare home win.
Matsuzaka, 33, might be one of the Mets’ more unappreciated stories this year, and one of the team’s more important cogs. He has appeared in 19 games (nearly one-third of the team’s games) and has a 2.95 ERA (bolstered by a sparkling 1.46 ERA at home), 3-0 record, one save, and three holds. Opponents are batting .154 against him and he has a respectable bWAR of +0.4. His only clunkers this year occurred last week in Chicago (his second start of the season) when he gave up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings (for which he earned a no decision) and back on May 5 when he blew a save opportunity.
Matsuzaka started the year in the bullpen, but made it clear he wanted to be a starter. That opportunity came when Rafael Montero was sent back to Triple-A last month as the odd man out in a numbers game for the bullpen. Matsuzaka then assumed Montero’s role in the rotation.
Dice-K’s versatility has seen him move between the ’pen and the rotation effortlessly and should place him among the candidates for the Mets’ first-half MVP. He has allowed manager Terry Collins to juggle a staff that has a key starter, Dillon Gee, on the disabled list and has seen heavy turnover—five other pitchers from the opening day roster have been sent down, placed on the disabled list, or released.
During last night’s broadcast Mets announcers Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez pointed out Dice-K’s value to the pitching and coaching staffs.
"Matsuzaka has saved their bacon in many ways," said Darling, who won 99 games for the Mets in a nine-year career. "He’s been able to pitch late in games, middle of games, extra innings, long innings, and start ball games."
"Daisuke was a positive in the bullpen," said Hernandez. "He gave the Mets a real long man and depth to the bullpen. He wants to start, but the bullpen has suffered with him in the rotation."
Dice-K has been so good he even took a comebacker "to the roast" in the sixth inning last night but leaped up to retire the side.
So what say you Mets fans? Has Matsuzaka been the first-half MVP for the Mets or is someone else more deserving?