From Strikeouts to Strategy - A Young Ace's Evolution

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From Strikeout Machine to Efficient Pitcher

Japanese pitching sensation Roki Sasaki, a highly sought-after prospect by Major League Baseball teams, has been facing challenges in his transition from a strikeout machine to a more efficient pitcher. While his strikeout numbers have dipped compared to his record-breaking 2022 season, Sasaki is focusing on improving his overall pitching strategy.

Sasaki's current record stands at 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA in six starts. He has struck out 41 batters over 38-2/3 innings, a significant decrease from the 173 strikeouts he achieved in 129-1/3 innings last year, the season he threw a perfect game.

His recent outing against the Nippon Ham Fighters saw him surrender five runs on eight hits in 5-2/3 innings. This performance reflects Sasaki's ongoing effort to prioritize pitching efficiency and staying healthy for the entire season, a goal he hasn't achieved in his professional career yet.

To achieve this, Sasaki is incorporating more sliders into his pitching repertoire. He believes this will provide him with a wider range of pitches and allow him to get easy outs more frequently. His manager, Masato Yoshii, a former MLB pitcher himself, believes that a good slider will significantly refine Sasaki's pitching arsenal.

However, Sasaki's fastball velocity has also decreased this season, reaching only 160 kilometers per hour in one game compared to consistently exceeding that mark in previous seasons. Despite this, Sasaki remains confident in his abilities and believes he will improve as the season progresses.

Sasaki's ultimate goal remains pitching in the Major Leagues, a dream he has held since childhood. He maintains open communication with the Lotte Marines regarding his aspirations, and the club seems supportive of his ambitions.

As Sasaki continues to navigate this transition, his focus on pitching efficiency and overall strategy could prove crucial for his long-term success, both in Japan and potentially in the Major Leagues.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09