Japanese phenom Roki Sasaki throws eight perfect innings in the first start after a perfect 19 strikeout game

Last weekend, Chiba Lotte Marines phenom Roki Sasaki pitched Japan’s first perfect game in 28 years. He struck out a record 19 batters, including a record 13 straight at one point. It was one of the greatest pitching performances of all time, in any professional league.

On Sunday, Sasaki nearly did it again.

The 20-year-old right-hander shot eight perfect innings in his first start since the Perfect Game. He struck out 14 batters. Sasaki was taken off after throwing 102 pitches to protect his arm – he threw 105 pitches in the perfect game – with a scoreless game. The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won the match 1-0 in 10 sets.

“It was so exciting, I have no words. Our guys hung on, and we kept saying on the bench, let’s do something,” said outfielder Chusei Mannami, who pulled it off. home run for the Fighters. the Japan Times after the match. “(Sasaki) is just too tough. The way this forkball falls? Forget it.”

Sasaki is up 51, 51 fewer with 33 strikeouts in his last two starts. He struck out 52 consecutive batters overall, setting a new record for Japan’s professional baseball league. The MLB record is 46 consecutive batters struck out by right-hander Yusmeiro Petit with the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

Four starts in the season, Sasaki allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in 31 innings. He struck out 56. Our RJ Anderson wrote a recognition report from Sasaki following his perfect game. Here is an exerpt :

According to data obtained by CBS Sports since early Sunday, Sasaki’s fastball averaged over 99.5 mph and featured 19.8 inches of induced vertical break and 15.4 inches of horizontal break. It is an unrivaled elite suit.

Sasaki’s splitter registers at 91.2 mph with 2.30 inches of induced vertical break and 7.80 inches of horizontal break. That speed would rank second fastest, behind Hirokazu Sawamura of the Boston Red Sox. Sasaki’s breakout numbers, meanwhile, compare most favorably to Blake Parker’s (2.9, 7.40). Parker’s splitter last season generated a 36 percent odor rate and 0.232 against average.

MLB clubs reportedly sued Sasaki while he was still in high school. He opted to stay in Japan and was the first pick in the 2019 NPB draft. Sasaki made his Marines debut last season, throwing 83 1/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA and 87 outs at bat.

When — and if — Sasaki will come to MLB is unknown. He must accumulate nine years of service time to be eligible for international free agency, and while he can ask the Marines to post him for MLB teams sooner than that, they don’t have to. The Marines have only posted one player in their history: infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2010.

Even if the Marines did post Sasaki, MLB’s international free agent system would subject him to bonus pools, limiting his earning potential (the biggest bonus pools are between $6 million and $7 million each year). Sasaki will have to wait until he is 25 to avoid bonus pools. An international project, which is under discussion, would further limit his options and earning potential.

The best opportunity for MLB fans to see Sasaki will be next spring’s World Baseball Classic. The tournament will return next year and Japan usually brings its best professional players to the event. Sasaki is, obviously, one of the best pitchers in his league.

No MLB pitcher has pitched two perfect games, let alone perfect games in successive starts. Johnny Vander Meer, with the Cincinnati Reds in 1938, is the only pitcher in history to throw hits in back-to-back starts.