Roki Sasaki will start for Japan in its World Baseball Classic semifinal game against Mexico in Miami on Monday.
Japan’s manager Kideki Juriyama made the announcement Sunday that he was turning the ball over to Sasaki, 21, who made news last April when he threw 17 consecutive perfect innings pitching for the Chiba Lotta Marines in the Nippon Professional League.
Right-hander Sasaki, who has a 100 mph fastball, will be opposed by left-hander Patrick Sandoval for Mexico.
Sandoval, a starter for the Los Angeles Angels, was the winning pitcher in Mexico’s 11-5 win over the United States on March 12. He gave up two hits and one run with two walks and two strikeouts over three innings.
Sasaki is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 3 2/3 innings pitched in the tournament. He’s given up two hits and an unearned run.
Japan’s biggest star, Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, told reporters from Japan on Sunday that he won’t be available to pitch in the semifinals but will be prepared to throw in relief in the WBC final, should his team advance.
“I don’t think there’s a chance of me starting, but of course I’d like to prepare to pitch in relief,” Ohtani said in Japanese, the Los Angeles Times reported. “That will depend on my physical condition. Up to this point, the team has really listened to my selfish requests and there are many things I’m doing that they have tolerated.
“This is the end of the end. From here, I’d like to have a discussion with my body and make a decision.”
–Field Level Media