19 June 2009
John Smoltz will round out a six-man rotation next week, but if Daisuke Matsuzaka can't prove that he is healthy and capable of winning games in the majors, the Red Sox may be forced to send him on a rehab stint in Pawtucket.
That mission begins tonight for Matsuzaka when he faces the Atlanta Braves.
Dice-K is 1-4 with a 7.55 ERA this season and most recently got knocked around by the Phillies to the tune of 4 ER on 7 hits (2 HR) and 2 walks through four innings of work. He's yet to get through the sixth inning in a start this season, but the Red Sox would settle for a limited number of full counts as a starting point right now.
The Braves don't have much experience with Dice-K, but 1B Casey Kotchman and OF Jeff Francoeur have taken him deep before. Chipper Jones (.302) and Yunel Escobar (.284) are the most dangerous hitters in the lineup, along with catcher Brian McCann (.323).
The Braves will be countering with their own Japanese starter Kenshin Kawakami. "K squared" hasn't earned win since May 22nd, but he has pitched well as of late, posting a 3.03 ERA in May and a 4.00 ERA in June. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a starts since he gave up eight to the Reds way back on April 26th. He has a tendency to hand out the walks (ala Matsuzaka) so the Sox should use their league leading patience (286 BB).
You all know who's hot - Ellsbury is reaching base and stealing them like it's going out of style... Big Papi has turned things around and has people talking about him back in the 3 hole soon... and Youk might of snapped out of his min-funk last night with his 12th ding don of the season.
But all eyes will be on Matsuzaka tonight... Go Sox!
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