Dodgers Rumors: Interested in Japanese Right-Handed Pitcher

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 14: Pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano /

Dodger fans finally get some rumors to follow for their beloved Dodgers after very quiet Winter Meetings earlier this week.

Per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the Dodgers are interested in 33-year-old, right-handed relief pitcher, Yoshihisa Hirano out of Japan. Hirano appeared in this past World Baseball Classic for Japan, pitching 5 1/3 innings and had a 3.38 ERA while striking out seven with one walk.

In the Japanese Pacific League, Hirano had a 2.67 ERA with 29 saves in 58 games. He had 47 strikeouts to 16 walks in 57 innings. The most concern about Hirano is obviously his age. He’ll turn 34 when Opening Day comes around, and you have to wonder if he’s a year or two late from coming to the MLB.

Nonetheless, Hirano has been an effective late-inning reliever for the Orix Buffaloes. In his 11 seasons with Orix, he had a 3.10 ERA and pitched in over 974 innings, while piling up 156 saves. Hirano was a starter in his first three seasons when he was drafted first overall by the Buffaloes.

He has a live fastball that sits in the min-90’s and mixes in a big forkball that has a ton of movement. He is effective in getting hitters to hit ground balls and has a decent 1.159 WHIP after 11 seasons. You can take a look at his 2016 highlights below.

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At age 34, Hirano is probably no Brandon Morrow. But he would be an interesting player for the Dodgers to take a flyer on given that he’s an international free agent and doesn’t require a posting bid and also has experience pitching late in games.

Despite his age, he’s been very reliable for the Buffaloes as he’s pitched in more than 58 games in all but one season since converting into a reliever. He’s also consistently pitched more than 60 innings, which is 17 more innings than Morrow pitched for the Dodgers last year.

As a veteran pitcher who has proven to pitch against baseball’s best talents, the Dodgers are well aware of what he will bring to the team. Multiple reports suggest that the market for Hirano was heating up during Winter Meetings. The Cubs, Tigers, Red Sox, and now the Dodgers are the most interested in Hirano’s service.

I’m very intrigued by these reports, Hirano may not be the can’t miss prospect that Shohei Ohtani is. But he brings in certainty where Ohtani doesn’t. Adding a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 is far from ideal, but it makes sense to go after a pitcher that has experience pitching in high leverage situations.

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I like the idea of bringing in a veteran pitcher to because he will be able to handle the transition to the states a little smoother. I’m encouraged by these reports. He may not be exactly what Morrow was for us last season, but he’s an experienced pitcher that will take hitters time to adjust to.