Tazawa ready to be solid part of Red Sox rotation

Lost in the shuffle amid Kevin Youkilis' meltdown was a very promising debut start from Junichi Tazawa, who went five innings for the win against the Detroit Tigers. (He now has the tough-to-maintain decisions/games ratio of 1.)

Tazawa was nervous in the first inning and couldn't command his fastball or get consistent break on his curveball, and his nerves were compounded by the Keystone Kops routine by Dustin Pedroia and Nick Green behind him. After the first inning, his command improved, and in his final three innings he pitched confidently and showed a sharper, more consistent curve, mostly 72-78 mph, with good depth and a tighter break. His fastball is average at 89-91 with a little tail, but it's flat and he's going to have to locate it well. He also throws an above-average splitter at 79-81 mph with good bottom, and he could stand to throw it more often, as it really looks like the fastball out of his hand and should be a weapon against hitters on both sides of the plate.

Tazawa's delivery looks odd and his arm action is long -- follow how far his hand travels from when he takes it out of the glove until he brings it forward toward his release point -- but it actually works well. He repeats it, generates good momentum toward the plate and, aside from the length, doesn't have any obvious problems in the delivery. The average fastball/plus secondary stuff combination can work in a big league rotation, but where it fits depends largely on command.

The Junichi Tazawa who threw in third, fourth and fifth innings on Tuesday night would be a solid No. 3 starter in a good rotation, and if his confidence builds off this outing he should be an asset to the Red Sox for the rest of this season.