Kodai Senga

Senga on track for MLB

SoftBank Hawks ace Kodai Senga remained on track to leave Japan’s major leagues for MLB prior to the 2023 season, after signing a five-year contract with the Pacific League club that includes an opt-out that will allow him to file for international free agency next year.

Senga, who has long coveted a move to MLB only to be denied because the Hawks officially “do not recognize the posting system,” won his season debut in April, but hurt his ankle fielding a comebacker. He returned in July when he surrendered 10 runs in 2-2/3 innings.

After pitching for Japan in the Olympics, he posted a 1.77 ERA over 11 games, all quality starts, and with the Hawks scoring seven runs per game when he pitched, went 9-2.

Profile: Kodai Senga

Read about Senga’s new contract in English on Kyodo News Plus.

Have a look at Senga’s new splitter:

Sugano to stay in NPB for another year

Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano said Sunday he would pass on filing for international free agency and remain in NPB for the 2022 season. Sugano received offers via the posting system last winter but declined to sign.

Due to what appeared to be fitness issues, Sugano had a very unusual year, where his velocity seemed good but in many games lacked command. And if Sugano can’t pin-point his pitches, his whole hit the corners to get ahead and expand the zone approach is in trouble.

The ideal zone for a pitcher is getting lots of routine balls, with little hard or soft contact. Sugano in 2021 reached career highs in soft AND hard contact, and the Giants fielders behind him posted, unsurprisingly, the worst DER of his career.

Throw that together with poor run support and you get a 6-7 record.

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