Updated: Oct 18, 2021
After the conclusion of the Japan Series, it is now posting season in Japan. The 31-year-old RHP, Tomoyuki Sugano has put up incredible numbers during his career in Japan, and his contract runs out next winter so there is a high probability that the Yomiuri Giants will post him in the coming days.
His repertoire consists of a fastball that sits 90-92 with a decent arm side run. However, he has lost a little bit of velocity which is going to be a major red flag to clubs thinking of signing him. He will make his money with his slider(s), he has two of them. One of them classifies more as a cutter and the other is the mix of a slider and curveball. He also offers very high spin rates. During the WBC, Team USA manager Jim Leyland stated that he was very impressed with Sugano due to his ability to locate his fastball and his slider, adding that he would even throw it in 3-0 counts. He also possesses a curveball which he has a difficult time controlling.
Sugano has been the Giants ace for many years while putting up some of the best numbers in the league. He has been dominant throughout his entire career until 2019 when he struggled. However, he was able to rebound in 2020. For his career, he has posted a 2.34 ERA through 197 games, WHIP of 1.035, 1.8 BB/9, and 8 K/9.
You can be sure that scouts will be taking a look at his performance in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was able to throw 6 innings while allowing only 1 unearned run, striking out 6, and walking only one; this was all done against a highly talented USA team and many people who are part of that club gave Sugundo high praise. As mentioned above, USA manager Jim Leyland said that he was an MLB ready pitcher. Andrew McCutchen also said that he was impressive. However it is important to remember that this all happened three years ago, and in the baseball world, that is an eternity. Teams will be worried about the dip in velocity in 2019 which was an injury-riddled season. However he, seemingly, was able to put many of those nerves at ease with his dominant 2020 campaign.
I believe it would be crazy for an MLB club to throw crazy money at Sugano. For comparison, Miles Mikolas put up much better numbers in Japan before he was signed by the Cardinals for 2 years 15.5 million. I would be shocked if Sugundo gets anything more than 2 years 8 million, especially with the market looking the way it does due to the coronavirus. The most promising reports are expecting him to be a number 4 pitcher, but I am just not sure that will happen. I believe he would be a good 5 spot guy in the very short term. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a club sign him to add to their bullpen and offer a few spot starts when needed. One thing is certain, clubs will be hesitant to throw big money at a 31-year-old pitcher who only has one good pitch and has already developed injury issues and experienced a dip in velocity.