Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kenshin Kawakami 2009

The second major Japanese player to sign this offseason, Kenshin Kawakami, will apparently be part of the Atlanta Braves rotation in 2009. Kawakami is very similar to Koji Uehara, and should also be an effective major leaguer, although his control isn't quite as exceptional. He may make up for that with a slightly superior strikeout rate. I would expect him to put up something like a 6.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and groundball rate around 40%. Not a star, but a solid middle of the rotation starting pitcher. He'll be helped by pitching in a favorable park in the National League, and may end up with a very similar ERA to Uehara. One concern with both is that most Japanese pitchers haven't aged especially well, likely because of the inconsistent usage patterns they face when pitching in the Japanese professional leagues.

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