Rocky Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte), who throws a fastball with a maximum speed of 165 km per hour, has been confirmed as the starting pitcher for the quarterfinals against Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). And behind him is Yamamoto Yoshinobu (25, Orix), who won the Sawamura Award for the second time in a row.
Japanese media Sports Hochi said on the 18th (Korean time), “The Japanese national team plans to play Sasaki and Yamamoto 1+1 in the quarterfinals against Mexico.”
Previously, Mexico defeated Puerto Rico 5-4 in the 2023 WBC quarterfinals held at Rondipo Park in Miami, Florida, USA, and succeeded in advancing to the first semifinals of the tournament. 먹튀검증
The joy was short-lived, and Mexico faced Japan, which is said to be the strongest ever. A Japanese reporter I met at the Korean national team training held in Tucson, Arizona, USA said, “In Japan, expectations for Samurai Japan are higher than the 2009 WBC national team (which won). Darvish also participated and a large number of major leaguers participated.” and conveyed the atmosphere in Japan.
He had reason to be proud. They broke through the first round with all four victories, including a 13-4 defeat of Korea with overwhelming power, and won a landslide 9-3 victory against Italy, considered a ‘dark horse’, in the second round.
Also, Japan does not use Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels) and Yu Darvish (37, San Diego) in the semifinals. However, the squad is thick enough to put both Sasaki and Yamamoto, who easily exceed 155 km/h, into one game.
Sasaki drew the attention of baseball fans around the world by achieving an unprecedented 13 strikeouts in 9 innings, 19 strikeouts, and an unprecedented perfect game against Orix last year. Sasaki, whose weapon is a fastball with a speed of up to 165 km and a splitter with a large drop, made a successful international debut by recording 2 hits and 1 run in 3⅔ innings against the Czech Republic in the first round, striking out 8.
The career of Yamamoto who followed him is also not easy. In 2021-2022, he is the best pitcher in Japanese professional baseball who has achieved the pitcher triple crown and won the Sawamura Award. Last year, he led his team, Orix, to the top of the Japan Series, winning the 2019 Premier 12 and winning the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In Korea, it is well known that he struck out three pitches against Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom) in the 2019 Premier 12 tournament. In this WBC match against Australia in the first round, he showed the same appearance with 4 innings, 1 hit, no walks, 8 strikeouts and no runs.
In Japan, which will play the semi-finals on the 21st, Darvish and left-hander Shota Imanaga (29, Yokohama), who throws a fast ball with a maximum speed of 150 km, will step up to the final on the 22nd. Imana is also a player who sent a career high with a no-hit, no-run last year, 21 games, 11 wins, 4 losses, an average ERA of 2.26, and 132 strikeouts in 143⅔ innings.