The news here is Daisuke Matsuzaka will miss his next turn in the rotation and possibly a lot longer after being placed on the DL with a "right shoulder strain." An MRI revealed no structural damage, but even before his MRI, the Red Sox had announced they would skip his turn in the rotation. While the mainstream media is trying to figure out what is wrong with "Dice-K," there are many of us "sabermetrics guys" who are saying what's the big deal?
Anybody who believes Matsuzaka was really as good as his 2008 W-L record and ERA, stop reading now. For those of you who are left, this is no big surprise. Matsuzaka was extremely lucky last year thanks to a .267 BABIP. He is only one of six pitchers who have walked over five batters per nine (min. 160 IP) and won at least 18 games in the same season. Last year he was saved by his ability to keep hitters in the ball park. His ERA-FIP of 1.13 was the second highest in the Major's behind Armando Galarraga, who has also had a crash landing back to earth.
The funny part about Matsuzaka's case is his strikeouts are up, his walks are down, but his home runs have ballooned. He has given up eight home runs in just 35 innings this season after allowing just 12 in 167.1 last year. If Matsuzaka was lucky last year, he is anything but this season. His BABIP is a ridiculous .441 and he's giving up nearly 27% line drives. Both are tremendously high and unsustainable. His 15.1 HR/FB% is also about 6% higher than his career norm.
Some in the media are quickly pointing at his participation in the World Baseball Classic as the source of his ineffectiveness/injury. However, after a quick check on velocity it seems that while he has had a slight drop in fastball velocity (-0.9), he has maintained velocity on most of his other pitches. Could the shoulder strain be the cause of all his problems this year? Absolutely. Could it be from pitching in the WBC? Sure. But most likely what we are seeing is Matsuzaka regressing from his 2008 form a bit too much. One of the most over-rated pitchers in 2008, he is now one of the most unluckier ones in 2009 and is probably getting more flack that he deserves.
It's funny how the baseball gods work.