The rookie of the year candidate got his second half started with his 11th win, but his agent, Scott Boras, seems concerned about the number of pitches he's thrown this season.
"I'd rather see him throw closer to 100 pitches than 120 pitches," said Boras Friday. Boras said he spoke to Matsuzaka when the Red Sox were in San Diego three weeks ago to emphasize the importance of protecting his longevity, without compromising Matsuzaka's competitive nature.
There was no indication Boras had expressed his concern to the team, but the Red Sox are aware of it now.
Matsuzaka, who is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last six starts, didn't return after squandering a 4-1 lead but Jason Varitek bailed him out with a two-run homer in the sixth, when the Sox scored five times. Matsuzaka threw 110 pitches, precisely his average over 19 starts this season.
Matsuzaka was down over his outing, calling it "disappointing from beginning to end today."
It's understandable what Boras is thinking. The man who negotiated Matsuzaka's six-year, $52 million deal wants to make certain his 26-year-old righthander is still at the top of his game when the pact runs out.
"We spend a lot of time, thought, money, and energy trying to keep our pitchers healthy for the long term," wrote Sox general manager Theo Epstein in an e-mail Saturday.
The Red Sox have allowed Matsuzaka to pitch deeper into games than the rest of their starters, feeling his background shows he's able to handle a bigger workload.