There are two Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) ace pitchers who will be knocking on the door of the major leagues after this season.
Orix Perfalos right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Yokohama DeNA BayStars left-hander Shota Imanaga. The two pitchers’ strong play at the end of the season has already generated interest from major league teams. Both pitchers will be eligible for the major leagues under the posting system.
“Shota Imanaga, who started the World Baseball Classic (WBC) final, is set to be posted to the majors after this season and is expected to receive a lot of interest,” MLB Network reporter John Paul Morosi reported on Aug. 8 (ET), adding that the Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals are among the favorites to sign him,
In 19 appearances this season, Imanaga is 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA, 21 walks and 152 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched. At the WBC, he pitched in three games, including the final against the United States, allowing two runs and striking out seven in six innings.
Imanaga, who made his debut in 2016, is 64-49 with a 3.19 ERA and is a left-handed ace who has been touted as an early major leaguer with a fastball that sits in the low 150s and a mix of pitches including a cutter, slider, splitter, and curve.
However, there will be more eyes on Yamamoto than Imanaga. Yamamoto is 14-5 with a 1.26 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 20 games this season. In 169 career games, he is 68-28 with a 1.84 ERA, 898 strikeouts in 876 innings, and a 0.94 WHIP.
Yamamoto was named Pacific League MVP in 2021 and 2022 after leading the league in wins, ERA, strikeouts, and winning percentage for the second straight season. This season, he leads the league in all four categories, making him the favorite to win the award for a third straight year.
The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to sign Imanagawa Yamamoto.
The Yankees’ love affair with Yamamoto was highlighted at the WBC in March. The Yankees have a one-two punch of Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon, but Rodon, who joined the team this year, has been plagued by injuries that have kept him on the disabled list for more than half the year, and his pitching has been erratic since his return.
That’s why American media outlets are reporting that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman traveled to Japan and watched Yamamoto pitch on the 9th. On that day, Yamamoto threw the second no-hitter of his career against the Chiba Lotte Marines at Jojo Marine Stadium, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out eight over nine innings.
Cashman sat in the front row of the main dugout to watch Yamamoto pitch that day. Not only that, but Major League Baseball scouts and officials were in attendance. 메이저놀이터
Yamamoto has a fastball that reaches 100 mph, a forkball, a cutter, and a curveball, all of which are considered to be major league ready. His NPB resume puts him in a class apart from other pitchers who came to the majors first. No pitcher has ever crossed the Pacific to win four championships in three consecutive years.
Because of this, Yamamoto is likely to be the highest-paid Asian player ever to join the major leagues.The previous record was the seven-year, $155 million deal Masahiro Tanaka received when he signed with the Yankees in 2014.In seven years with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka went 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA, 1238 strikeouts, 1315 innings pitched, and a 1.11 WHIP. His best season came in 2013, shortly before joining the Yankees, when he posted a phenomenal 24-1 record with a 1.27 ERA.
Tanaka was 25 when he signed with the Yankees, the same age as Yamamoto now. Still, Yamamoto’s three consecutive four-peats and 1.27 ERA are more impressive. His sub-one ERA and sub-zero WHIP are also unprecedented.
Coincidentally, it was Cashman who brought Tanaka to the Yankees 10 years ago. It will be interesting to see if he breaks the record for the most money spent on an Asian player and acquires the best Japanese pitcher to date.