I really haven’t the foggiest idea. He apparently looked good yesterday, but (a) it’s spring training, and (b) I didn’t actually see it and am relying upon secondhand reports of dubious value. According to Wikipedia, he throws a 90 MPH fastball, a curveball, and a cutter, and he apparently has good control. Keith Law, I think, says that his fastball is straight and that major league hitters will tee off on it, though it seems to me that while Japanese hitters probably aren’t as good as major leaguers, they also probably aren’t totally stupid.

His stats are apparently good, but you could put everything I know about Japanese baseball on the back of a Kaz Ishii baseball card. He won the MVP and the equivalent of the Cy Young in 2004. He won 17 games that year, which is apparently a typical league-leading total (their schedule’s about 140 games) and again in 2006. Last year, he was used in a six-man rotation, for some reason.

My best guess is that he’ll put up an ERA about 4.50. That’s just a guess. If he does that, he’ll probably be considered a disappointment, but if he’s only the third or fourth starter, if Lowe and Vasquez pitch like they should, that will be enough to help the team.

Kenshin Kawakami – The Baseball Cube