Random fact: Dice-K's Baseball-Reference page is sponsored by a paperback novel site
Let me get one thing out of the way in the Spring before the season starts. I kind of like Dice-K. In a very strange way. I feel like the Red Sox never let him pitch his game, which was throwing a million pitches, and it hurt his potential MLB career. That being said, I will not have a lot of nice things to say about him through the season. I anticipate harping on the fact that he is obsessed with pitching in 3-2 counts. Watching a Dice-K game takes all night, and it really bothers me. But please don't confuse that with me hating Dice-K. I'm one of the few people around who think he has some having a respectable season.
That being said, we will never see what we saw out of him in the 2008 season. That was his second season after signing the 6 year deal in the 2006 offseason. He had his one season to become acclimated with American culture, and still have the hitters not really figure him out yet. In this season, he finished 4th in the Cy Young voting and put up a 2.90 ERA and a 18-3 record. That is the only year we have seen anything like that out of him.
In the season following the great year, Dice-K was sidelined most of the year with shoulder issues. He only was able to start 12 games, and averaged a little less than five innings per start. He clearly wasn't pitching well in those outings, and he was probably throwing a lot of pitches in those innings, which indicates those dreaded full counts. (Get used to that meme by the way, it is one of my biggest Red Sox pet peeves). In 2010, he definitely looked no better. He finished the year with a 4.69 ERA and a 9-6 record.
For the coming season, I don't anticipate a much better year for Dice-K. He will still give up a lot of base runners and not last long in the games. However, he is the 5th starter and he has a good offense and a good bullpen, so I anticipate he can have more wins with a similar ERA. Here are my predicted stats for Dice-K this season.
4.78 ERA, 12-13, 178 IP, 1.56 WHIP, 1.63 SO/BB