From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Indians have agreed to a minor league contract with right-handed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. The deal carries an invitation to spring training, where the 32-year-old will be given a crack at a starting rotation spot. If he’s on the major league roster the entire season, he can earn an upwards of $4 million.
Dice-K will be reuniting in Cleveland with manager Terry Francona, who was hired away from his broadcasting job at ESPN in early October.
Matsuzaka posted an ugly 8.28 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and 41/20 K/BB ratio across 45 2/3 innings last summer for the Red Sox. He had a 4.52 overall ERA and a 1.42 overall WHIP during his six total seasons with Boston.
The Indians have quietly enjoyed a productive winter, hauling in Trevor Bauer, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs and Jason Giambi while deciding to retain shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.