Could Dice-K close? TC: 'No question'
April, 23, 2014
By Danny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDaisuke Matsuzaka prefers to start. But he could end up as the Mets' closer.NEW YORK -- Daisuke Matsuzaka would prefer to be pitching in the first inning. There might be just as good a chance, though, that the New York Mets try him in the ninth.
Asked Wednesday if he thought Matsuzaka could close games, manager Terry Collins didn't hesitate.
"No question," Collins said.
Collins knows he needs to have potential closers in mind as the Mets go through this season without Bobby Parnell, who had Tommy John surgery. Jose Valverde held the job for less than three weeks. Now it's in the hands of Kyle Farnsworth, who didn't even make the team out of spring training.
Matsuzaka has made two relief appearances since rejoining the Mets last week, just the second and third times he pitched out of the bullpen in the big leagues. He pitched four innings, allowing one run on two hits, with two walks and six strikeouts.
The natural concern with putting Matsuzaka at the end of games would be whether he would throw enough strikes, always an issue in his career.
"The adjustment he made at the end of last season, those walks went away," Collins said.
The other concern for the Mets is that Matsuzaka has value as a long reliever and backup option for the rotation. He may never end up closing, but it is something that has crossed Collins' mind.
"He wants to start," Collins said. "We know he wants to start. But he said. 'If you need me in the pen, I'll be ready.'"
Matsuzaka even told Collins he was available to pitch Monday, for what would have been a third consecutive day (and after three innings Sunday). Collins told him no on that but did have Matsuzaka ready to go if the Mets had tied the game in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
No big change for Curtis: The Mets have looked at plenty of video on Curtis Granderson in an attempt to figure out why a guy who has been a good hitter suddenly can't do anything at the plate. But Collins said he cautioned his coaches against overreacting.
No way to see Jose: The Miami Marlins are off on Thursday, so the Mets will miss Jose Fernandez when the Fish visit Citi Field this weekend. Fernandez struck out 14 Braves on Tuesday night, and leads the majors with 47 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings this season.
Probables for the weekend: Zack Wheeler vs. Henderson Alvarez Friday, Jenrry Mejia vs. Kevin Slowey Saturday and Dillon Gee vs. Tom Koehler Sunday.