2009: Mets add a veteran lefty Japanese pitcher named Takahashi who is represented by Peter Greenberg.
2010: Mets add a veteran lefty Japanese pitcher named Takahashi who is represented by Peter Greenberg.
Unlike Ken last year though, Hisanori went straight to New York rather than taking a detour through Toronto.
So, what do the Mets have with this Takahashi?
I’ve written that I see Hisanori as an MLB reliever, but he doesn’t agree with me and was adamant about getting a chance to start during his negotiations. Hisanori has mostly been a mid-rotation starter in Japan, usually putting up respectable rate statistics but doing so in rather limited work. Only three times in his ten-year career has he logged more than 160 innings, most recently in 2007 when he threw a career-high 186.2. Last year, Hisanori threw 144 innings over 25 starts, putting up solid 7.88 K/9IP and 3.5 K/BB rates.
Durability seems to be one of the things that most obviously suffers when Japan-trained pitchers transition to MLB. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda, and Kenshin Kawakami all saw their number of innings pitch drop in MLB, in terms of both total innings over the season and innings pitched per start. Hisanori isn’t as good as any of those guys, and given that he will pitch this season at age 35, and that he’ll be adjusting to a new culture, new scouting data, a more demanding travel schedule, a different diet, and a more challenging league, it’s reasonable to expect a regression from him.
On the plus side, Hisanori is lefthanded and throws a good screwball. This is a low-risk move for the Mets — they aren’t committing a 40-man roster spot or a ton of money to him right off the bat, and he was the only free agent starter left on the market without health question marks. Still, the Mets have a long history of acquiring middling Japanese talent, and the smart money is on Ryota Igarashi to buck that trend, rather than this year’s Takahashi.
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