The New York Mets might be hot on the heels of Brandon Lyon in hopes that the reliever can give the team something resembling a ninth-inning mix going into the Spring, but as it turns out, the team might not be done there.
According to Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe, the Mets’ pitching remake in 2013 could involve bringing in Daisuke Matsuzaka to Spring Training when it starts up later this month, either as depth in the starting rotation, or in the bullpen as the long-man.
It would be a reclamation project, of course. Dice-K made just 11 starts for the Boston Red Sox in 2012 after recovering from his first Tommy John surgery, most of which hovered between sub-par and disastrous.
Still, if you happen to like number-picking, you could see why the team might be interested in adding someone like the former Japanese star to the mix in the spring: he’s now more than one year removed from the surgery, and that the 32-year-old regained some of the velocity he lost in 2011 is a little bit of reason to hope that he could return to the form that he had in his first couple of years in Boston.
Then there are the pitching numbers themselves. If you’re feeling generous and want to ignore Dice-K’s ludicrously poor 2.17 HR/9, or the fact that hitters teed off on him to a tune of a .302 BAA, you’ll find that his 8.08 K/9 and 3.94 BB/9 are surprisingly playable. In fact, the 2.05 K/BB is his best since his rookie season, even if everything else went oh-so wrong.
But was it in fact a complete breakdown of all of his skills? There’s enough to doubt that he’s simply “done,” especially when you see how much of the damage done to Dice-K last season centered around two pitches – his 28 sliders, which were destroyed to a 1.881 OPSA (almost three times the .628 over the 1500+ times that he’s thrown it), and his 33 two-seamers that his opponents posted a otherworldly .667/.880/2.667 triple-slash against.
Yes, his regular four-seamer was weak, too, but it was nothing like his total lack of effectiveness on those two pitches, and the rest of his secondary stuff (cutter, curveball, change) were actually quite effective.
So what does it mean? Perhaps Dice-K simply might not have the same multi-tooled arsenal he has anymore; whether that will hinder him from starting in the big leagues again remains to be seen. That said, he still has effective pitches, and could be an ideal fit for a swingman-type role in a more-forgiving-than-Fenway NL park.
The Mets might just be able to provide that fit.