Can Shintaro Fujinami turn his production around in Baltimore?
With the Baltimore Orioles fighting for the top spot in the AL East, they have picked up some pitching help in trading for Shintaro Fujinami from Oakland.
The American League East is a topsy turvy version of itself this year. With the Tampa Bay Rays looking invincible for most of the season so far and the Yankees stumbling their way through the summer, things have gotten even more off kilter as the All Star Break comes to a close.
The Yankees find themselves in dead last for the first time in 33 years, while Rays are now showing signs of vulnerability, however faint, as they now share the division lead, once seen as almost unassailable, with the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore are giving themselves a boost on the mound by striking a deal with the Oakland A’s for Japanese pitcher Shintaro Fujinami in exchange for minor league pitcher Easton Lucas.
Fujinama is a bit of an enigma who may seem like a strange choice for the O’s to go after, but the 6 foot 6 inch 29 year old has shown promise in recent weeks. On four starts with the A’s, Fujinami gave up 24 runs in only 15 innings pitched.
Brought over from the Hanshin Tigers for $3.25 million last offseason, Fujinami was hoped to be able to provide a steady veteran hand in the Athletics’ bullpen. And while he didn’t work out as planned in the Bay Area, there are signs that he has improved over the past month, leading to hopes that he is beginning to settle into the league.
In the NPB, Fujinami was a firm fan favorite and in the last month, he has begun to show some of that form in Oakland, with a 3.26 ERA over 19.1 innings since June.
The Orioles have little to lose in taking a chance on him, with their team already at championship level without him. From their point of view, anything that the Japanese veteran can offer will be a bonus to enhance their chances.