Give Omar Minaya credit: he’s the best when it comes to signing left-handed relievers with the last name Takahashi. Last season, after the Blue Jays released him, the Mets pounced on Ken Takahashi. He would wind up throwing more than 25 innings out of the pen and generally performed well. Well, that Takahashi is gone, but the Mets added Hisanori Takahashi in his place.
No, they didn’t give Hisanori the same number in order to preserve those surplus replica jerseys and it’s for the best. Hisanori has already thrown 42 innings for the Mets this season and he’s now a member of the Metropolitans’ rotation. The promotion came after 26 innings in the pen; during that stretch Takahashi struck out 33 batters, allowed a single home run, and walked 14 – a total that is deceiving because five of those walks were of the intentional variety – good for a FIP under 2.7.
As one would expect, Takahashi has not continued to strike out more than 11 batters per nine innings pitched as a starter. In fact his strikeout rate sat just under seven per nine entering yesterday; his walk ratio, now unburdened by occasional over managing, sits at a positively cuddle-worthy 1.69 per nine. Takahashi held a 4.21 xFIP entering his start against the Florida Marlins with the main point of conflict being his home run rate. Naturally he allowed two homers, giving him three in 21 starter innings.
Even after those homers, Takahashi’s starter FIP is just north of 4.00. Takahashi very well could be one of those relievers able to translate his skill set into a worthwhile starting performance. Even if his arsenal – which features a high-80s fastball, a loopy high-60s curve, and his sinker-change-up combination of an outpitch known as the shuuto – lacks in sexiness and top-end velocity, he seems to make up for it with the ability to place each pitch wherever he wants.
It’s just amazing that the same guy who gives Alex Cora a contract worth a few million and a vesting option in a non-existent market can take less money and find bargains like either Takahashi.