My Apologies, Mr. Tazawa
The signing of Junichi Tazawa in 2009 just mystified me. What did the scouts see that warranted a $3,000,000 payout? He was not even drafted by any of the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) teams and played in an industrial league. Was the Boston Park League also being scouted? Was this an attempt to find another Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima?
Aug 15, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox pitcher Junichi Tazawa (36) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays in the eighth inning at the Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tazawa managed to impress in the minors enough to get some MLB time where he was treated rather rudely. Finally, he blew his arm out and I consigned him to the detritus pile in Red Sox history. A footnote under the ledger titled failures.
Then came 2012 and 2013 to show I will not be collecting a check from prognosticators central or any scouting department. Junichi is very good. This season his K/25.7% and BB/3.9% is what stands out. His xFIP is near the bottom. Holds, WHIP, ERA all check in reasonably well. The dark side I see sifting through the metrics is his 1.28% home run rate and a BABIP of .305. Tazawa is just not a ground ball pitcher.
Tazawa has shown himself to be a competent set-up man when one was needed. With the combination of Tazawa and Koji Uehara you get a load of strikeouts and few walks in the late innings, and that certainly keeps my BP in the 160/90 range during games