After undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 10, 2011, Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to return to the mound for the Boston Red Sox tomorrow against the Nationals. The question is, less than a year after undergoing the procedure, if he can bring value to fantasy owners.
We looked at him about a month ago (click here to view) and determined that he was worth monitoring in deeper formats. A month later and on the precipice of making his return to the Major Leagues, nothing has really changed. Outside of a slight setback due to a neck issue, we still hold the same concerns.
Yes, he posted back-to-back strong outings (1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 10.1 innings) at Triple-A, but his last start was less than spectacular. He lasted just 1.1 innings allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 2. According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (click here to read the post), “In what may have amounted to a tuneup for a start Saturday for the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed one run on three hits and two walks in a 40-pitch outing that got him through only 1-1/3 innings tonight for Triple-A Pawtucket.”
The control is obviously the biggest question mark, as it always has been with Matsuzaka. We all know, after returning from Tommy John surgery, pitchers can potentially struggle in this regard. Matsuzaka has a career BB/9 of 4.35 and had a 5.54 mark prior to his 2011 season prematurely coming to a close.
Yes, he did show good control recently, but that was in the minor leagues. If he tries to nibble and struggles to throw strikes as he has in the past, things could get ugly.
Throw in how difficult the AL East has become and you have significant concerns for a pitcher who posted an ERA of 4.69 or worse each of the past three seasons. In AL-only formats he’s an obvious add. In the deepest of mixed formats his upside makes him worth stashing, just in case, as he does bring strikeout potential (K/9 over 8.0 each of his first three seasons).
However, in all other formats we have to take a wait and see approach. There’s too much risk in shallower formats and probably much better options available.
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