If you look closely at the Red Sox pitching staff you could find one hidden gem, who comes without much fanfare.

26 year old Junichi Tazawa is now three years removed from Tommy John surgery, and maybe he is the ace the Sox have been searching for.

Back in 2007, Craig Shipley and Jon Dibble of the Red Sox were the first scouts to see Tazawa in an industrial league in Japan. One game they saw him strike out 19 with no walks, throwing 95 mph consistently. Boston signed the 22 year old Tazawa in the fall of 2008 ( http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3736390 ) and less than a year later, at age 23,  he was starting in Fenway.


Tazawa missed all of 2010 following surgery, and when he came back in 2011 his fastball was at 89-91.

In 2012, his velocity jumped up to 96-97, with a great split and slider.

Tazawa only pitched 44 innings in 2012 for Boston, with 45 strikeouts. In Pawtucket last season, he hurled 42.1 innings with 56 strikeouts, giving him 91 strikeouts for the season.

The Red Sox probably feel pressure to keep him in his middle innings role, mainly because Daniel Bard was such a failure at the same move to starter last year.

But Tazawa is not Bard, his control separates him from any comparison.

Anyone that consistently throws strikes in the mid-nineties, with two other dominant pitches, should be in the rotation if they are healthy.

When you step back and just look at the talent alone, Tazawa deserves a chance to be the ace of this rotation.

The first person that needs to be asked is Junichi himself.  If he wants the ball every fifth day as a starter, why not try it?

The Sox might be better with him instead of Felix Doubront or John Lackey.  Even if the team added him as a sixth starter, the staff would stay fresh, and that might be the best way to use Junichi Tazawa in 2013.


The make up of the Boston pen right now has Joel Hanrahan closing, with Andrew Bailey and Koji Uehara for the seventh and eighth innings. Craig Breslow, Franklin Morales, and Andrew Miller would fill the rest of the pen sufficiently.

The best place for Junichi Tazawa, is to be in the Red Sox rotation in 2013.

Do you agree?