Blue Jays: Shun Yamaguchi hopeful to win rotation spot

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 15: Shun Yamaguchi #1 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses during a press conference at Rogers Centre on January 15, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 15: Shun Yamaguchi #1 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses during a press conference at Rogers Centre on January 15, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays formally introduced Shun Yamaguchi yesterday in Toronto and the hurler quickly expressed his desire to win a spot in the starting rotation.

The Blue Jays inked hurler Shun Yamaguchi to a two-year pact worth $6.350 million back in December. The 32-year old made 26 starts for the Yomiuri Giants in 2019 posting a 15-4 record with a 2.91 earned run average while fanning 188 in 170 innings of work.

When speaking with the media yesterday, Yamaguchi stated he is hoping to win a spot in the rotation but also understands he needs to be flexible and indicated he is ready for that also. Ross Atkins confirmed that Yamaguchi will be in the rotation mix and although the bullpen is eventually a possibility, he will begin starting and they will go from there.

The Blue Jays rotation should be much deeper this season with the likes of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Ryan Borucki, Matt Shoemaker, Trent Thornton, Anthony Kay, Sean Reid-Foley and Yamaguchi all vying for starts.

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Yamaguchi was predominately a closer for the Yokohama Bay Stars in the Japan Central League from 2009-12 saving 104 games over four seasons. The right-hander didn’t become a starter until 2014 and has been there since.

Over 14 professional seasons in Japan, Yamaguchi is 64-58 with a 3.35 earned run average, 1.240 WHIP, 112 saves and an 8.8 SO/9 rate in 427 games.

The new hurler appears to have a sense of humour while not taking himself too seriously. During the press conference, he was asked why he did not follow in his father’s footsteps and become a sumo wrestler. Through an interpreter, Yamaguchi replied, “As I got older, I thought about showing my butt.”

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Regardless of how it plays out, Yamaguchi appears like a high upside, low-risk signing who can bring versatility and experience to the rotation or bullpen.

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