Pitchers participating in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Japan national team are quickly raising their pace. “Ace” Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes) and “Perfect Game” Rocky Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) started warming up with pitching in the bullpen.
Local multiple media such as Japan’s ‘Chunichi 안전놀이터 Sports’ and ‘Daily Sports’ reported on the 2nd (Korean time) the news of the bullpen pitching of the pitchers aboard the WBC national team to be held in March. All the players who started pitching in the bullpen in different places on this day started preparing for the WBC in earnest using the WBC official ball and rosin.
According to media outlets, Rocky Sasaki pitched his first bullpen pitch at the Chiba Lotte Marines’ spring camp in Okinawa, Japan. Sasaki threw a fastball (29 pitches), a slider (11 pitches), and a forkball (9 pitches), throwing 49 pitches in front of the coaching staff.
Sasaki appeared in 20 games last year, including achieving a ‘perfect game’ based on a fast ball with a maximum speed of 164 km/h, and digested 129⅓ innings, playing an active role with an average ERA of 2.02 of 9 wins and 4 losses. He suffered a finger blister injury before the All-Star break and suffered a physical problem at the end of the season, which prevented him from winning his first 10 games in his debut.
In addition to Sasaki, Yamamoto, the “ace” of the Japanese national team, also started pitching from the bullpen in Miyazaki, Japan. Yamamoto recorded 18 wins and 5 losses with an average ERA of 1.39 and 1.68 in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and won the Sawamura Award with four pitchers for two consecutive years,
In Orix camp, in addition to Yamamoto, Hiroya Miyagi and Yuki Udagawa, who joined the WBC national team, also pitched in the bullpen. Last year, Miyagi went 11-8 with a 3.16 ERA in 24 games (2 complete throws, 1 complete shutout), and Udagawa pitched in 19 games with 2 wins, 1 loss and 3 holds with an ERA of 0.81.
Matsui Yuki (Rakuten Golden Eagles), who was in charge of the back door of the Japanese national team in the past, also threw a total of 41 pitches during the spring camp held in Okinawa. Matsui made full use of 41 fastballs without mixing the breaking ball. Matsui recorded an average ERA of 1.92 with 1 win, 3 losses, 7 holds and 32 saves in 53 games last year, and an ERA of 2.48 with 23 wins, 43 losses, 68 holds and 197 saves in 442 games in his career.
And Hiromi Ito of the Nippon Ham Fighters also marked 41 pitches at the Okinawa camp. Ito recorded an average ERA of 2.95 with 10 wins, 9 losses, 1 hold and 1 save in 26 games last year, and was selected as the Japanese national team for two consecutive tournaments following the Tokyo Olympics.