COMMENTARY| The 2013 Boston Red Sox are a much different team than the one that made fans sick to their stomach the past few seasons. New personnel both in management and on the field have helped Boston return to legitimacy in the first two months of the year. And, of course new players taking the field at Fenway means that many others have parted.
Of those players who have left, one is not missed too greatly by Red Sox Nation. Daisuke Matsuzaka spent the majority of his six-year Red Sox career pulling at the exasperated strings of fans. His style of nibbling at the strike zone, his slug-like pace, and his continuous disappointing performances all drove even the most tolerant fan bananas. By the time 2012 came to end, so did everyone's patience with Matsuzaka, including the front office. He would not have his contract renewed.
However, even without Matsuzaka in Boston, the Red Sox are not without "an exasperating starting pitcher. Yes, it's time to meet the new Daisuke.
In the contest for the new most frustrating starting pitcher award, Felix Doubront wins hands down. Much like Matsuzaka, Doubront goes deep into counts, puts numerous players on base, slowly pitches out of jams, and strangely strikes out a significant number. His WHIP (1.73) is ridiculously high, but in typical Daisuke fashion, he knows how to keep the game close.
There's no denying that Doubront has solid stuff. He has above-average velocity for a lefty, his curveball bends, and his off-speed pitches can dance. However, he hasn't been able to take the next step in his development. Doubront has floundered as a low-level starter, raising questions about whether he has the ability and drive to improve.
Following more of the same struggles from last year to start the season, Doubront showed some signs of life in last night's performance in Chicago. The White Sox ultimately won the game, but Doubront's start was unquestionably his best of the season and showed plenty of signs of improvement. The righty went six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits. Doubront also showed tremendous efficiency, throwing just 85 pitches in those six innings. He only struck out three, but walked just two. Overall, it was a very encouraging start.
Boston's manager, John Farell decided to pull Doubront early. He easily could have started another inning with the pitch count being low, but it was arguably the correct decision. Doubront is a pitcher looking for confidence. There is no sense keeping him in for another inning, especially after pitching respectably all night long. Farrell understands what is best for his players. What was best last night for Doubront was to walk away feeling good about a start and feeling good about himself.
Overall it's been a rough season for Doubront. Thankfully for the Red Sox and him, Boston is getting very good pitching performances from everyone else, which lessens his impact on the season. However, it doesn't give him a free pass. There will be times this season when Doubront will be asked to pitch above and beyond the marginal numbers fans have seen so far. More starts like last night's will go a long way in giving confidence to the young hurler to get the job accomplished.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Red Sox
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Felix Doubront