Nats Should Make Bullpen Trade with the Eagles

Unfortunately it is not possible to make a trade with an NPB club. But the Rakuten Golden Eagles have two guys in their bullpen having phenomenal seasons. It is one of the reasons they find themselves in first place in the Pacific Division. Major league scouts would not be too enamored with them as their height is a bit on the short stature.

Their primary bullpen guy is their closer Yuki Matsui. He is tied with Dennis Sarfate for the lead in saves with 27. He also has a 0.22 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 40.2 innings. During that time he has only allowed 19 hits and walked 21, striking out 46 hitters.

Last year was a struggle for Matsui. While he saved 30 games it was done with an ERA of 3.32. The start of the season saw his ERA above 5 and a nice finish to his season brought it down to respectability. But a 3.32 ERA is not good when his second season in the NPB, his first as a reliever he recorded a 0.87 ERA. The walk numbers increased, resulting in the higher ERA. This year they are also a little high.

Despite his 5′9″ height five teams selected Matsui in the first round. The Golden Eagles won the rights to him. His reputation of striking out 22 hitters and 19 hitters twice while pitching in high school made him a hot commodity. The Eagles put him in the rotation in 2014 and he struggled a bit with his command. Once put in the bullpen he has been dominant. He throws lefthanded with a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s. His best pitch is a slider and he can focus on his fastball/slider combination when in the bullpen.

The other dominant pitcher is Hiroyuki Fukuyama. He has yet to give up an earned run (one unearned run) in 36 appearances covering 33 innings, putting his ERA at 0.00. He has given up a few more hits than Matsui (22) and does not have a lot of strikeouts (18). He is 5-0 with 15 holds. This is his fourth successful stint in the Eagles bullpen. He is also small in stature standing at 5′8″ but does not come with the same high draft status or high school cache of Matsui.

The giant in the Eagles bullpen is Frank Hermann. He stands 6′4″ and is second in the Pacific Division in holds with 23. By Eagles standards he has a rather ordinary 1.99 ERA but like Matsui he has more whiffs (34) than innings pitched (31). Japanese teams seem to be focusing more on finding foreign players to fill their bullpens. Strikeouts are also on the rise in the NPB as players copy the major league stars with their all or nothing approach to swinging.

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