New York Mets News

Daisuke Matsuzaka: Mets Season in Review

By Andrew Battifarano

We continue our 2014 Season in Review series, turning the page over to right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Coming into the year as a wild card and possible fifth starter, Matsuzaka emerged as viable relief pitcher for the Mets.

Jul 12, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher

Daisuke Matsuzaka

(16) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

How he fared in 2014:

Matsuzaka was expected to fight with Jenrry Mejia for a back-end of the rotation spot, but both ironically made their way to the bullpen by season’s end. Though he was still prone to walk and control issues, Daisuke actually fared well as a reliever, pitching to the tune of a 3.84 ERA. His help in the bullpen gave the Mets a bit of flexibility and depth they have not normally had in recent seasons.

What was nice to see out of Matsuzaka was the fact that his home run rate per nine innings, which generally has been at or one near one, was down to .65 in 2014. His ground ball percentage (40.7) was the highest its ever been.  Call it a little bit of luck, but he kept his BABIP down to .256.

It might have been a surprise coming into the season, but Daisuke ended up as a nice surprise for Terry Collins.

Areas to improve upon:

No matter if he’s pitching out of the bullpen or in the starting rotation, he needs to have more control. That’s always been part of his downfall, and this year was no different. At times he would look good, but then have command issues. His walks per nine (5.40) was the highest its ever been for him in a single season where he made at least 20 appearances. Walks come back to bite you, and I’m sure Daisuke knows this more than anymore.

It also wouldn’t hurt if he developed a quicker delivery to the plate, too, but I don’t see that ever happening.

Projected Role in 2015:

Well seeing the Mets have a bevy of arms both in the major leagues and waiting in the wings in the minors, there is almost no chance Daisuke returns to the rotation on Flushing. The best case scenario for him would to be a middle or long reliever, just as he was this season. It would be tough for him to be anything more than that at the present time.

Contract status and trade rumors:

Matsuzaka was only signed through 2014, and could very well not be part of this team next season. Per Adam Rubin, the right-hander said he wants his next gig to be a starting one, which almost certainly means he will not be wearing a blue and orange jersey in 2015.