Previewing Tazawa’s First Start by R.J. Anderson August 11, 2009 Tonight, Junichi Tazawa is slated to make his first major league start against the Detroit Tigers. Tazawa made his debut last week against the Yankees, facing nine batters allowing a home run, walking nobody, and striking a pair out. He tossed 35 pitches, 24 for strikes, with most of them being fastballs although he also threw an assortment of breaking pitches and even a pair of off-speed pitches. The Tigers lineup figures to look something like this: Granderson CF Polanco 2B Thomas LF Cabrera 1B Guillen DH Ordonez RF Inge 3B Laird C Everett SS Only three lefties (Guillen is a switch hitter) but it probably won’t matter too much. According to MinorLeagueSplits, Tazawa struck out a quarter of the left-handed batters he faced in the minors while walking eight percent. Against righties his strikeout total was down to 18%, but his walk rate halved. The scouting report on Tazawa includes a fastball in the low-90s that cuts into righties; a 81-83 MPH slider that serves as Tazawa’s out-pitch; a curve that sits around 76-78 and has two-plane movement; and a change-up that also sits 81-83. That repertoire seems to agree with the numbers in saying he can be effective against any batter, including the abnormal species known as left-handers. One thing to watch is Tazawa’s release points, check the separation from his reliever outing on his breaking stuff and fastballs, they seem to be slightly higher: Detroit is a middle of the pack offensive team, but Fenway favors hitters and is practically a doubles haven, so there’s a decent chance Tazawa gets touched up a bit. If he doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll hear about him non-stop from ESPN for the next two years.