Shintaro Fujinami (29-Oakland Athletics) garnered a lot of attention as a rival to Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) in the amateur ranks. He broke into the major leagues this year, but has struggled to break out of his slump.
In his seventh inning relief appearance against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington, Fujinami gave up three runs (three earned) on two hits, one walk, one hit-by-pitch and four strikeouts in 40 pitches. He threw 40 pitches, 25 of which were strikes. Fujinami’s ERA ballooned to 12.69.
Fujinami took the mound as the team’s third pitcher in the seventh inning with the team trailing 0-8. She got off to a good start. He struck out leadoff hitter Teoscar Hernandez on a four-pitch swinging strike before getting A.J. Pollock to fly out to center field. He then retired Jose Caballero on a full count with a six-pitch walk.
With his team down by two runs in the top of the eighth, Fujinami took the mound again. He struck out leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford on three pitches. But that was as good as it got.
The next batter, Ty France, induced a wild swing at a fastball and then threw four consecutive foul pitches. He then gave up a fastball to Julio Rodriguez. “At this point, boos rained down on the stadium,” according to Japanese outlet Full Count. At this point, the pitching coach visited the mound. He gave up a single to Jared Kellnick to load the bases and a two-run double to Eugenio Suarez. Carl Rowley’s grounder to the pitcher then scored Kellnick from third, increasing the lead to three runs. He then struck out Hernandez to end the threat. That was it for Fujinami. The team fell to 2-11.
Fujinami is the same age as Ohtani, who has thrown over 150 kilometers since high school. The two were recognized as ultra-high school pitchers and rivals. After joining the Hanshin Tigers in 2013 and winning 10 games, he went 14-7 with a 2.40 ERA in the 2015 season. His performance earned him a spot on the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier 12 squad.
In 2017, however, Fujinami began a downward spiral due to injuries. His fastball, in particular, was fast, but his unreliable delivery always held him back. After going 3-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 games last year, he made his dream move to the major leagues this season. The Oakland Athletics were the first team to reach out to him. He signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the A’s last winter through the non-tender system.스포츠토토
What the A’s were counting on from Fujinami was a hard fastball. In the exhibition season, he showed promise, going 3-0 with a 4.32 ERA in five games. But in the regular season, he’s been a disaster. In 14 games (four starts) this season, he is 1-5 with a record of 34 hits (three home runs), 24 walks, four hit batsmen, 29 strikeouts, 40 runs (39 earned), a batting average of .293, and a WHIP of 2.10 in 27⅔ innings pitched.
He was included in the starting rotation for four consecutive games to open the season, but failed to live up to expectations. He was eventually moved to the bullpen on April 27, where he’s now in the loss column. To make matters worse, Oakland is 10-39 (.204 winning percentage), the lowest winning percentage among the 30 clubs in the majors. With only 49 games played, the A’s are 20 games behind division leader Texas (as of May 23). The question remains, can Fujinami last the season in the big leagues?