Roki Sasaki (Chiba Rodeo Marines) is becoming the next “ace” of Japanese professional baseball, and his resilience is nothing short of insane. Until an injury knocked him out of the lineup, it didn’t look like we’d see him on the mound this season, but he’s already made his second bullpen appearance.

Japan’s Daily Sports, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi, and other local media outlets reported the news of Sasaki’s bullpen pitching on the 29th (KST).

Selected by the Chiba Lotte in the first round of the 2019 Nippon Professional Baseball Draft, Sasaki had a breakout year last year. He dazzled fans with his fastball, which can reach speeds of up to 164 kilometers per hour, and he quickly became one of the league’s best pitchers when he achieved the “perfect game”.

The only thing missing was durability. A blister injury at the end of the first half of the season and stamina issues in the second half of the season meant that his first 10 wins of his career would have to wait, but Sasaki’s impressive record of 9-4 with a 2.02 ERA earned him a spot on the World Baseball Classic (WBC) squad, where he pitched in two games and went 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA to help Japan lift the trophy.

After playing the most games in his professional career last year and gaining international experience, Sasaki took it to the next level this year. Sasaki was dominating the Pacific League this year, breaking his personal best fastball (previously 164 mph) to 165 mph and becoming the first pitcher in both the Pacific and Central Leagues to reach the 100-strikeout plateau after just 11 games.

This year, however, injuries have been a problem. Just like last year, Sasaki missed about a month with a “blister,” and after pitching six innings against the SoftBank Hawks on March 24, throwing 93 pitches, allowing four hits, one walk, nine strikeouts, and one run (one earned), he hasn’t pitched since. This time, it’s an adductor muscle injury.

Sasaki’s top velocity against SoftBank was only 160 km/h. It wasn’t a slow pitch by any means, but it was far from his usual form. The next day, Sasaki was dismissed from the first team, with manager Masato Yoshii stating that “Sasaki was dismissed due to a left adductor muscle (problem),” according to multiple local media outlets, including Daily Sports. 온라인카지노

“He felt a little pain while facing the last batter, and the pain seemed to get worse as he threw four more pitches and returned to the bench,” Yoshii explained, and local media reported, “His return is expected to take two months at the earliest. If the symptoms persist, he could be out for the season,” he said, raising the possibility of a season-ending injury.

But Sasaki’s recovery seems to be going better than expected. He may be back in the first team before the end of the regular season. According to Nikkan Sports, Yoshii said, “This is the second time I’ve thrown with (the catcher) standing. He was able to throw a fairly strong ball in the bullpen, so now he will start pitching with the catcher seated.” Sasaki threw a total of 20 pitches for the second team on July 27.

For now, Yoshii is cautious about the exact timing of his return, as there is a high chance of recurrence in the adductor muscle. Yoshii said, “If the rehab staff says ‘okay,’ I’ll post it. For now, I’ll think about it after they give me the green light.” “In the short term, Sasaki is a trump card,” said Sports Hochi, adding, “There is a possibility that he will not pitch in the second team but will pitch in the first team right away.”

The Chiba Lotte Marines are currently in second place in the Pacific League. They have some separation from third-place SoftBank. Even if Sasaki is unable to return in time for the regular season, fall baseball is not a problem, so he could be used in the short term to provide a big boost in the first and final stages of the Pacific League Climax Series. At the time of his departure, he was expected to be out “two months at the earliest,” and he’s already back on the mound in two months.

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