Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker tweeted an article a few hours ago reporting that Japanese submarine pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe intends to pitch in the United States. The article is in Japanese, but I take Patrick’s (and Google Translate’s) word for it.
You may remember Watanabe from the 2006 World Baseball Classic. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the pitching motion certainly will:
That is some serious submarine action. Dan Quisenberry looks down from Pitching Valhalla watches that and says “damn.” Chad Bradford, when reached for comment, presumably said “dude, that’s nuts.”
But optics are one thing. Baseball significance is another. And as far as that goes, well, eh. I dunno. At this point in his career Watanabe does not exactly profile as someone who is gonna do well here. He’s 37 for one thing. For some reason he only pitched in six games last season for Chiba Lotte, which could suggest an injury. Either way, though, Newman says his velocity is only in the 70s. While he has deception on his side he doesn’t strike guys out at all. Really: over the past few seasons he’s struggled to reach three Ks per nine innings.
And if he doesn’t deceive hitters? According to his Wikipedia page, back in a 2004 exhibition David Ortiz hit a 525 foot home run off him, which was the longest ever homer hit in the Tokyo Dome.
Anyway: could be interesting. Could amount to absolutely nothing. But you’re gonna want to watch him pitch if he does make the jump.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: