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Fantasy Notes: Dice-K Rediscovers the Strike Zone

May 12, 2007 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka owners were getting a bit antsy as the Japanese sensation had struggled to find the strike zone lately — particularly having difficulty with runners on base. In his previous three starts before Wednesday’s outing in Toronto, Dice-K had been touched up for 18 hits, 17 runs and 10 walks in 18 innings, seeing his ERA shoot up to 5.45 — not exactly what you paid top dollar for, no doubt. The problem was clear: He had allowed opposing batters to hit .271 with runners on base compared to just .221 with bases empty. Matsuzaka worked on that during last Sunday’s very extensive 109-pitch side session, trying desperately to improve his technique pitching out of the stretch. Another benefit of such a long session was that it was believed he was entering starts too strong, hence the mechanical issues. Working harder between starts — although rare by North American standards — is something he’s used to from his massive workload in Japan. The results were immediate: he limited the Jays to five hits, three walks and a run in seven innings, fanning eight. Best sign yet that there’s no need to worry: Matsuzaka held the Jays hitless in 11 tries with runners on base. He’ll get a tougher assignment Monday against Detroit, the second-highest scoring team in the AL.
  • Although Alex Rios has picked up the pace lately (.455 in the past week heading into action today), he remains tremendously inconsistent from day to day. In the past four games, he’s alternating great days at the plate, with complete ineffectuality. The Jays need this dude consistently getting on base out of the leadoff spot, but a .329 OBP isn’t good enough. This afternoon, he took an 0-for-5 and fanned twice, but the Jays won anyways thanks to some long ball action. Toronto can’t rely on the homers every game, so if it has any hope of salvaging this season, Rios will need to be a sparkplug until Reed Johnson returns.
  • Take a look at the lists of people who have done the most career damage against AL East clubs and one name is beginning to become more and more prominent. With an RBI on Thursday night, Manny Ramirez passed Harold Baines as the all-time leader against Toronto with 132. He’s already the leading home run hitter against Toronto, adding to his mark with No. 53 on Wednesday. He’s third all-time against Baltimore in RBI and climbing fast with another ribbie last night and two more today as of the seventh inning. That’s 140 RBI against Baltimore for Ramirez. And even against the Yankees, Manny ranks fourth in all-time home runs with 50. After another sluggish start, Manny has his BA up to .256 and climbing.
  • Tim McLeod points out that Kevin Slowey continues to mow ’em down with Triple-A Rochester. Thursday he tossed a complete-game three-hitter, walking none, striking out seven and giving up two earned runs — and lost. For the year, Slowey is 3-2, 1.51 and has given up a mere 24 hits in 41 2/3 innings. How about his K/BB ratio? Thirty-eight Ks against two walks. Come on Gardy, enough of this Sir Sid crap; let’s see what the kid can do in the dome. Ponson is allowing opponents to get on base over 41 per cent of the time. What more do you need to know? If you don’t want to rush Slowey, fine, let Scott Baker have a shot. Or how about Matt Garza? He rebounded with a dominant effort last night. The bottom line here is that Minnesota is under .500, and needs a spark. There is no need to keep running the rotund one out there when there are perfectly good alternatives in the minors.
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