Japanese 155km horror left-hander who bullied Korea finally appears in ML. “Expecting a starting spot.”
The ‘dreaded lefty’ who tormented Korean hitters will try to make it to the majors.
Shota Imanaga, 30, a left-handed pitcher for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball, has finally made it official.
“The Yokohama club has allowed Imanaga to try out for the major leagues through the posting system,” Japanese sports publication Nikkan Sports said on Nov. 11. Yokohama met with Imanaga on Tuesday and made the final decision to approve the posting.
Imanaga pitched three innings of one-hit relief against South Korea in the first round of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, striking out three and walking one. He boasted a fastball that topped out at 96.2 mph (155 km/h) at the time.굿모닝토토 도메인
Japan’s starter was Darvish Yu, but he struggled, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits in three innings, including a two-run homer to left field off Yang Jiechi in the top of the third. Japan responded with four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 4-3 lead and sent Imanaga to the mound in the top of the fourth.
Imanaga started the inning by taking a straight hit from leadoff hitter Park Gun-woo and struck out Kang Baek-ho on a 95 mph (153 km/h) four-seam fastball to stop the South Korean rally. Imanaga, who got Yang Ji Woo to ground out to shortstop to end the inning, gave up a leadoff single to left and a double to left to Lee Jung-hoo in the top of the fifth to put runners on second and third, but got Park Byung-ho to fly out to right field to preserve the scoreless streak. He did hit a 95.6 mph (153 km/h) four-seam fastball to Park for a solo home run in the top of the sixth, but it didn’t have much impact on the game as Japan held a 6-4 lead.
In the end, Japan won the game 13-4, and after losing to Australia and Japan, Korea’s fate was effectively sealed for the first round.
Japan, on the other hand, breezed through the first round and made it all the way to the final, where they faced off against the United States for the trophy. Japan’s starting pitcher for the final was Imanaga. Imanaga gave up a solo home run to left field to Trey Turner in the top of the second inning, but pitched two innings of four-hit ball to earn the win. Japan went on to win 3-2 and claim the much-anticipated title.
Imanaga, who had a stellar WBC, has also been outstanding in the league. Starting all 22 games this year, Imanaga went 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings pitched and led the Central League in strikeouts with 174.
Imanaga joined Yokohama in 2015 and established himself as a full-time starter in his rookie season, becoming the first pitcher in the franchise’s 52-year history to throw a no-hitter on June 7 against the Nippon Ham Fighters. His career record in Nippon Professional Baseball is 165 games, 1002⅔ innings, 64 wins, 50 losses, four shutouts, and a 3.18 ERA.
Local media in the U.S. have already written off Imanaga’s major league aspirations and listed him as a player to watch in the free agent rankings. Sports Illustrated (SI) recently ranked Imanaga as the No. 13 free agent pitcher in the country. “Imanaga has a dominant fastball, but he also has command and a strong changeup. He’s projected to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter with a strong changeup and command.”