Mets close to signing Japanese reliever Igarashi

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David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that the Mets are close to signing Japanese pitcher Ryota Igarashi to a two-year contract.
Igarashi is a 30-year-old right-handed reliever who has pitched for the Yakult Swallows since 1999. He saved 37 games in 2004, but has primarily been a setup man since, posting a 2.87 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 97.1 innings over the past two seasons after missing all of 2007 following Tommy John surgery.
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker put together a detailed scouting report on Igarashi, including the fact that he’s one of Japan’s hardest throwers with a fastball that reaches the upper-90s. According to Newman he also features a hard splitter with the occasional slider, but has spotty control. No word yet on the monetary details, but based on his track record, stuff, and the two-year deal it looks like the Mets view Igarashi as a late-inning setup option in front of closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Alex Wood to try pitching out of the stretch

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Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers starter Alex Wood plans to pitch out of the stretch throughout the 2018 season. Wood got the idea when he watched Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg pitch against the Dodgers.

Wood, 27, finished last season 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 151/38 K/BB ratio in 152 1/3 innings. That’s a mighty fine season, one in which many pitchers would not dare to mess with something that isn’t broken.

Interestingly, Wood indeed has had better results with runners on base — when he would pitch out of the stretch — as opposed to the bases being empty, with a respective OPS allowed of .523 versus .684, respectively. Over his career, he has allowed a .617 OPS with runners on and .706 with the bases empty.

In response to Moura’s tweet about Wood, retired pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver took the opportunity to burn themselves. Haren tweeted, “I pitched a few seasons completely out of the stretch actually, just not by choice.” Weaver responded, “Sometimes I would just step off and throw the ball in the gap myself because I knew the hitter would do it anyways.”