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Thursday, August 22, 2013
Top stats to know: Matsuzaka the Met

By Mark Simon

AP Photo/Michael DwyerMets fans will get their first look at Daisuke Matsuzaka in a Mets uniform on Friday.
Some statistical notes and nuggets on newest Mets pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed with the team on Thursday.

Not Your Older Brother’s Matsuzaka
In 2008, Matsuzaka went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and looked to be on the verge of stardom heading into the prime of his career.

But since then, not much has gone right. From 2009 to 2012, he was 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA in 56 appearances.

Last season, he had one of the worst years ever for a Red Sox pitcher -- an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts and 45 2/3 innings pitched.

Be prepared for long games
Matsuzaka works at a deliberate rate, one that those who don’t like it would probably refer to as glacial. It may bring back memories of the days the Mets had Steve Trachsel in their starting rotation.

Fangraphs.com charts a stat that it calls “Pace” which measures the approximate amount of time between pitches. Matsuzaka has the second-slowest pace of any pitcher who has thrown at least 550 innings since 2007 (25.4 seconds). Only Josh Beckett rates slower in that span.

Games also take awhile because Matzuaka is prone to the walk. He’s averaged 4.3 walks per nine innings for his career, the seventh-highest total of any pitcher since the start of the 2007 season.

Turning a Corner?
Matsuzaka was pitching well at Triple-A, though his full-season numbers don’t necessarily indicate that.

Matsuzaka had a 3.06 ERA in his final nine starts for the Indians' affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. Most significant was Matsuzaka’s strikeout-to-walk rate in that span, 51-to-11. In his first 10 minor league starts this season, it was 44-to-28.

Matsuzaka’s biggest issue last season was that lefties roasted him -- they were 32-for-96 with eight home runs. But in Triple-A, he’s been able to get them out a little bit more, holding them to a .238 batting average and six homers in 164 at-bats.

The History
Matsuzaka will be the 10th Japanese-born pitcher to pitch for the Mets, the fifth to make at least one start for them.

The most successful Japanese-born pitchers for the Mets were Masato Yoshii (18-16, 4.17 ERA in two seasons, 1998 to 1999) and Hisanori Takahashi (10-6, 3.61 ERA in 2010).

Matsuzaka is one of four Japanese-born pitchers with at least 50 major league wins. His 50 are one shy of Tomo Ohka for third-most. Former Met Hideo Nomo has the most with 123. Hiroki Kuroda ranks second with 68.