Into mid-March, Blue Jays Shun Yamaguchi and Trent Thornton continue to do battle for Toronto’s 5th spot in the rotation
The Japanese pitcher had a rough start to his first Spring Training in a Blue Jays uniform. After signing a two-year deal for $6 million, Shun Yamaguchi proclaimed he intended on winning a spot in the rotation. While others felt he was signed to provide bullpen depth.
Yamaguchi, the first-ever Japanese the Blue Jays signed out of the Japanese market. Yamaguchi first took the mound in Toronto’s 3rd game of the spring. It did not go well. Shun allowed 3 runs on three hits and a walk over 0.2 innings. After his first outing, the 32-yr-old rotation hopeful sported a 40.50ERA.
Shun Yamaguchi returned to the mound on February 29th. He looked much better, throwing three strong innings, allowing one run on 2 hits and walk. Shun allowed a home run but struck out three batters to lower his ERA to 9.82ERA and keep in him the hunt of the 5th spot in the rotation.
Tough outing for new Blue Jays pitcher Shun Yamaguchi today. Allowed three home runs, including an opposite-field shot to Bryce Harper. Fastball was 88-90 mph range.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) March 5, 2020
Five days later, Yamaguchi took the mound for his 3rd start appearance of the spring. He did not start this game, coming into the game in the 3rd innings after Tanner Roark started. Shun allowed 4 runs on 5 hits, walking two and surrendering 3 long balls. After his 2nd rough outing of the spring, Yamaguchi appeared to be falling out of the race for the 5th spot.
Yamaguchi’s main competition for the rotation spot is Trent Thornton. Trent last pitched on March 7th, allowing two runs on five hits over 2.2 innings. Trent allowed two walks and struck out pair in the outing. Thornton has fared much better than the veteran Japanese pitcher. He owns a 2.35ERA, walking 5 and striking out 4 over 7.2 innings.
On March 10th, Shun Yamaguchi followed Tanner Roark once again. He came into the game in the 5th inning and pitched 3 innings, allowing one run on two hits. Shun walked one and struck out a pair. Unfortunately, Shun allowed yet another HR in the outing. That’s 5HRA in 9IP which is not good to state the obvious.
In 4 appearances, Shun Yamaguchi owns a 0-1 record and a 9.0ERA. He’s walked 5 and struck out 6 batters. He is still in the race but with Opening Day just two weeks away, Shun Yamaguchi cannot afford another rocky appearance.
Obviously, Blue Jays fans would rather start the year with Nate Pearson pitching every 5th day. However, that isn’t going to happen. Trent Thornton could wrap this competition up with a strong outing which should come on March 12th.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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