Saturday, May 28, 2022

20-year-old pitching phenom Roki Sasaki throws perfect game with 19 strikeouts in Japan’s NPB

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Roki Sasaki, a 20-year-old right-handed starter for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, may have authored the pitching performance of the year on Sunday by delivering a 19-strikeout perfect game.

Sasaki’s perfect game, the first in NPB in 28 years, came against the Orix Buffaloes, a team whose lineup features former big-league players like Breyvic Valera and Rangel Ravelo. It didn’t matter to Sasaki, who tied the league record for strikeouts and set a new mark for consecutive strikeouts by notching 13 in a row over one inspired stretch.

Here are some highlights:

Sasaki finished the day with a 106 Game Score, a metric created by Bill James that attempts to put a single number on a pitcher’s dominance by factoring in their box score statistics from any given outing. For perspective, the highest Game Score in Major League Baseball last season was the 99 pitched by Baltimore Orioles left-hander John Means in May when he no-hit the Seattle Mariners in an outing that saw him nearly toss a perfect game. Furthermore, the highest game score in MLB since the last round of expansion belongs to former Chicago Cubs phenom Kerry Wood (105), who struck out 20 Houston Astros as part of a one-hitter back in May 1998.

Sasaki’s first pitch of the game cleared triple digits and he was still touching 100 mph late in the game, according to Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest

Sasaki is in his second season as a member of the Mariners’ NPB roster. In 18 career appearances, he’s amassed a 1.94 ERA and a 5.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 97 innings pitched. Veteran baseball scribe Jim Allen threw an 80-grade, meaning elite-level, on Sasaki’s fastball back in a 2020 scouting report. Allen also predicted that Sasaki will eventually be “posted” for the consideration of MLB teams.

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