By Carter Cromwell
For the Japanese imports to Major League Baseball, the trend lines changed little during Week 5 of the 2020 season.
- Starters Yu Darvish and Kenta Maeda continued pitching well
- Reliever Shun Yamaguchi continued to recover from a disastrous beginning
- Starter Yusei Kikuchi continued a string of average-to-mediocre mound performances
- Shogo Akiyama, Yoshi Tsutsugo and Shohei Othani continued to struggle at the plate
The only player bucking the trend was starter Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees, who turned in a scoreless performance against Atlanta.
Also, relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano of the Seattle Mariners debuted with three scoreless outings after missing the first part of the season while recovering from COVID-19.
Darvish of the Chicago Cubs improved his record to 5-1 with a seven-inning performance against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up just one run and one walk, while striking out 10 batters. Darvish has a 1.70 earned-run average and .092 WHIP, and he’s walked just six batters in 37 innings. His efficiency also shows up in his average number of pitches per inning – just a hair over 15 so far – the best of his MLB career.
Maeda of the Minnesota Twins pitched five innings of one-run ball against Cleveland to up his record to 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA and tiny 0.71 WHIP. Like Darvish, he’s given few free passes – only seven in 36.2 innings. And, like Darvish, his average number of pitches per inning thus far (14.5) is the lowest of his MLB career.
Yamaguchi, in his first year with the Toronto Blue Jays, got his first major-league victory, pitching four innings against the Boston Red Sox, allowing a hit, a run and two walks. After suffering losses in his first two games of the season, Yamaguchi appeared in 11.2 innings since, and has given up just two earned runs.
The Seattle Mariners’ Kikuchi did get his first victory of the season in fifth start. He wasn’t super-sharp, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in five innings against San Diego, though he did strike out six and not walk anyone. He’s 1-2 for the season with a 6.12 ERA.
In his one outing of the week, Tanaka gave up just three hits and no walks to Atlanta hitters, though he ended up with a no-decision. He’s 0-1 for the season, but his ERA has dropped to 3.48 and his WHIP to 1.16.
Of the hitters . . . well, not one had a good week.
- Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds was 1-15 during that time, lowering his batting average to .195 and his OPS to .526. He has no home runs and just three RBI this season.
- The Tampa Bay Rays’ Tsutsugo was just 2-16 at the plate, though he did have five bases on balls. He’s hitting .179 overall, with four home runs, 15 RBI and a .668 OPS.
- Ohtani, who’s DHing for the Los Angeles Angels, was 4-17 for the week and is batting just .183 over the season to this point.
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