Shota Imanaga (30-Yokohama DeNA Basestars), the best left-handed pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), dazzled in front of Major League Baseball scouts but couldn’t get the win.
Imanaga started the 2023 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) home game against the Junichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on March 13 and pitched eight innings, allowing one run on seven hits (one home run) with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Imanaga left the mound with the tying run in scoring position and was unable to get the win, as Yokohama fell to Junichi 1-2 in 11 extra innings.
According to Japanese media reports, 27 scouts from 11 major league teams, including the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies, gathered at Yokohama Stadium to watch Imanaga pitch that day. Imanaga put on a successful showcase in front of the major league scouts, striking out 11 batters with a 150-mile-per-hour fastball, sharp slider and changeup.
Imanaga, who had 999 career strikeouts prior to the game, reached the 1,000-strikeout milestone in the top of the first inning with the bases loaded when he struck out Bright Kenta, Junichi’s No. 2 hitter, on a wild pitch. Imanaga, who became the 156th player in NPB history to reach the milestone, became the eighth player in history and the fourth-fastest left-handed pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts in 983 innings.
Imanaga struck out a batter in each inning and cruised through the fourth inning with six strikeouts and no walks, but in the top of the fifth, he gave up a solo shot to left field to Junichi leadoff hitter Seiya Hosokawa. After giving up the lead, Imanaga did not falter and ended the fifth with a popup and two strikeouts. Yokohama responded in the bottom of the fifth when leadoff hitter Neftali Soto tied the game at 1-1 with a solo shot to center.
Imanaga, who had eight strikeouts through five innings, added two more in the seventh to record her second straight 10-strikeout game and sixth of the season. With another strikeout in the eighth, Imanaga increased his career strikeout total to 1,010.
Despite throwing 107 pitches in eight innings, Imanaga was unable to get any support from his offense to earn his eighth win of the season. Imanaga, who recorded his seventh win of the season on July 25 against Junichi, did not add another win in his next seven games. Imanaga, who is 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 20 games, leads the NPB in strikeouts (163).
Meanwhile, Imanaga, who will be eligible to post after this season, has already drawn interest from major league clubs. “According to sources, the Yokohama club will allow Imanaga to post to the major leagues after the 2023 season,” MLB Network’s John Morosi reported on July 7 (KST), adding, “Imanaga could end the year in the majors.”
“Imanaga is well known to MLB scouts for his performances with his club and in international competition,” said MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, adding that the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals, among others, will be looking to fill starting rotation gaps this offseason. “Along with right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes) and outfielder Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes), Imanaga will be one of the top Asian baseball stars to watch this winter,” said CBS Sports. 소닉카지노
As for the interest in Imanaga from across the ocean in the United States, the Yokohama club said, “Nothing has been finalized at this time. The club is cautious, saying, “If (Imanaga) officially requests a post, we will decide at that time.” Nevertheless, the interest in Imanaga from Major League Baseball clubs has not abated. Imanaga himself is said to be preparing for a move to the majors, having expressed his desire to play in the United States to the Yokohama club during salary negotiations last December, raising hopes for another Japanese big leaguer.