Shota Imanaga

From BR Bullpen


Shota Imanaga (今永 昇太)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 176 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Shota Imanaga has pitched in Nippon Pro Baseball and for the Japanese national team.

Imanaga had a 18-16, 2.03 record in his college career and won a MVP. [1] The Yokohama BayStars took him in the first round of the 2015 NPB draft. [2] He was 8-9 with a 2.93 ERA as a rookie in 2016, fanning 136 in 135 1/3 IP and allowing 108 hits. He was 6th in the Central League in whiffs (between Kris Johnson and Kenta Ishida), tied for 8th in losses and just missed qualifying for the ERA title (he would have been 6th, between Yuta Iwasada and Randy Messenger).

In 2017, he was 11-7 with a 2.98 ERA. He made the CL leaders for ERA (5th, between Yusuke Nomura and Takumi Akiyama), wins (tied Messenger for 7th), Ks (4th, between Messenger and Haruhiro Hamaguchi) and shutouts (2, tied Kazuto Taguchi and Kazuki Yabuta for 2nd, one behind Tomoyuki Sugano). [3] In the 2017 Japan Series, he set a season high with 10 K in six innings in Game 2 against the Softbank Hawks, Tomoya Mikami relieving him with a lead that did not hold. He was only the second southpaw to whiff ten in his first Japan Series game; Hisanori Takahashi had done it 17 years prior. [4] He then got the nod in Game 6, with the BayStars down 3 games to 2. He struck out 11 and allowed a Nobuhiro Matsuda dinger but no other runs in seven; Shoichi Ino took over with a 3-1 lead but again Softbank rallied. He joined Yu Darvish as the only hurlers to fan 10+ in back-to-back starts in a Japan Series. [5] He easily led the Series in K, ten ahead of Nao Higashihama. [6]

The Fukuoka native had a rocky 2018, though (4-11, 6.80, 108 H in 84 2/3 IP), winding up in the minors for six games (1-2, 3.05). He tied David Buchanan for the CL lead in defeats. Hoping to get back on track, he played for the Canberra Cavalry in the 2018-2019 Australian Baseball League. He was lights-out there (4-0, 0.51, 14 H, 1 BB, 57 K in 35 IP). He won the ERA title by .59 ahead of Markus Solbach, tied for 9th in wins, was 6th in K (between Frank Gailey and Conor Lourey, both of whom who made 10 starts to his 6) and easily led in WHIP (.43 to Solbach's .75). Solbach beat him out as the All-Star SP.

He built on that, returning to form in 2019 (13-7, 2.91, 186 K, 128 H in 170 IP). He was 4th in ERA (between Shun Yamaguchi and Yuki Nishi), 2nd in wins (two behind Yamaguchi), 2nd in K (2 behind Yamaguchi) and led in whitewashes (3). [7] In 2019 NPB All-Star Game 1, he took over for Daichi Osera in the 3rd with a 2-0 deficit against the Pacific League and retired all six batters he faced (Eigoro Mogi, Shogo Akiyama, Kensuke Kondo, Hideto Asamura, Hotaka Yamakawa and Masataka Yoshida) before Yamaguchi relieved. [8] He was 11th in voting for the 2019 CL MVP. [9]

Imanaga then made the Japanese squad for the 2019 Premier 12. Against Taiwan, he went three shutout frames (4 H, 4 K, 0 BB) before Yudai Ono relieved; Ono got the credit for the win. He then dominated against Bronze Medal winner Mexico, allowing only one hit (a Jon Jones homer) in six innings, fanning eight, to beat Horacio Ramirez. He was 4th in the event in whiffs (behind Hyeon-jong Yang, Arturo Reyes and Shao-Ching Chiang), leading the champion Japanese team. [10]

He was 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA and 63 K in 53 IP in 2020, a shoulder injury cutting his season short. [11]

He throws a fastball (peak 94.4 mph), slider, curveball and change-up. [12]