Our third match up is Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Chien-Ming Wang:
These guys are polar opposites. Though both arrived to their respective teams from the Pacific Rim, one was signed as an amateur free agent while the other was ransomed off for a grand total of $100 million dollars.
They also differ greatly in their pitching styles. Matsuzaka relies heavily on the strike out and Wang is a ground ball machine. That also means that Wang pounds the strike zone, never walking more than 59 batters in a season and even when one of those walks does occur, he usually can erase it with a double play ground out.
Contrasting Wang, Matsuzaka seemingly tries to walk the bases loaded every time out. In 2008 Matsuzaka had the fourth highest walk total in all of baseball while only throwing 167 2/3 innings. What saves him is his ability to limit hits and to strike out a ton of batters. Where Wang erases base runners with double plays, Matsuzaka strands them with a large amount of strike outs. The problem with this is the Japanese ace ends up expending himself early in the game and may only manage five or six innings a start.
If Wang has any fault it is that for a long time he never struck out batters. But over the last two years that seemed to change as his strike rate jumped up from 3.14 in 2006 to 4.70 in 2007 and 5.12 last season. If it rises anymore he may be able to take a step forward into the top echelon of pitchers in the league.
Verdict: Even though Matsuzaka has the better stuff and the higher upside, Wang is more reliable in terms of going deep into games. If Matsuzaka can stay around the plate a little more and avoid all those walks, then his raw ability will outshine Wang’s. Until then he runs the risk of the walks catching up to him. Wang may not provide as many dominating performances as Dice-K, but he provides more constistancy over the course of a season. Yanks jump back in front 2-1.