’07 Season: Dice-K was hyped up to be the second coming of Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax. The Red Sox broke the bank to get him and fans expected excellence from him. The media room at Fenway had to be expanded to make room for the Japanese media. He was supposedly armed with an unhittable pitch called the Gyroball. Fans from around the world watched his first MLB game against the Royals on April 5. Dice-K had a solid first outing; he only gave up 6 hits and had 10 strikeouts getting his first win. Most Sox fans saw this as a good sign that he would be the player he was hyped up to be. However, in his second start he was out-classed by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. For the rest of the season he was inconsistent; masterful one game and ineffective the next. He had control problems at times and struggled when he had runners on base. He ended the season going 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA. He went 3-1 in the post-season getting the win in game 3 of the World Series.
’08 Outlook: The tremendous pressure Dice-K faced in ’07 will be off him. He now knows what to expect from a long major league season with a baseball obsessed town. A 6 man rotation would be a great benefit to Matsuzaka who showed fatigue last season. He pitched in a 6 man rotation in Japan. Dice-K’s season was similar to Beckett’s first year with Boston. Once he adjusts to the hitters he should have a better second year with the Red Sox. He has “ace” stuff and with some increased control he could be the pitcher Boston paid big bucks for. With increased control and a lower pitch count he should have a better record and a lower ERA in ’08. He will be a great #2 pitcher for the Sox next season and start to earn his hefty paycheck.