Dice-K: Enigmatic and Unhittable via farm1.static.flickr.com
With his win last night over the Texas Rangers, Daisuke Matsuzaka is now 14-2. Like many stats, wins don't tell you the full story, but they do matter to some people. In particular, the Baseball Writers Association of America consider wins an important qualification for the Cy Young award (along with Ks, innings, and ERA).
By my count, Daisuke has 8 potential starts left before the season ends. Matsuzaka might be the alpha and the omega of the 2008 season, starting both the first and last games. If he wins at least 6 of those 8, he'll have 20 victories, which will put him on the BWAA's radar.
The Cy Young is a much more meritorious award than the Golden Gloves, but it is still a meaningless award. Nevertheless, I like to see Boston players win such honorifics and have their achievements recognized. Matsuzaka's main competitor in this race is Cliff Lee, the Cleveland lefty having a career season; he leads the league in wins at 16-2, and ERA at 2.45. Other potentials include Mike Mussina (15-7, 3.30 ERA) and Joe Saunders (14-5, 3.07).
Daisuke missed starts to injury, so his innings and strikeout totals are low. However, he has some good peripherals: a 7.62 K / 9 innings ratio (0.5 higher than Lee's), and a 0.59 HR / 9 IP ratio. Walks are a real problem: Daisuke's 5.33 BB / 9 IP ratio is pretty bad. Incredibly, he's been able to minimize the damage with men on base.
By one measure, Daisuke's season is just like the last one. His fielding independent percentage is 4.24, not far off from 07's 4.35, though his ERA is much better. Line drive and groundball percentages are in line with last season, though he's suppressing homers much more effectively (25 in 07, 8 in 08).
So should Daisuke be in the Cy Young discussions? Are you pleased with his season? Is his current performance sustainable, or will he start allowing more hits with RISP? Speak your mind below in the comments, and answer the poll.