Yamashita, revealed himself as the next ace of the Japanese

In early March, his fastball reached 159 kilometers per hour.

Orix Buffaloes right-hander Pei Yamashita, 21, has revealed himself as the next ace of the Japanese national team. He threw a fastball that reached 159 kilometers per hour in a friendly game against Team Europe at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka on Saturday. That’s almost as fast as his top fastball of 160km/h, which he posted last year. Prior to the game, he had touched 155 mph in camp.

He came on as the fourth pitcher in the sixth inning and pitched two innings of one-hit, two-strikeout ball. His first pitch, a five-seam fastball, touched 159 kilometers per hour with two outs in the sixth inning against Team Europe’s No. 3 hitter. Of his 33 pitches, 24 were fastballs, averaging 156.2 mph. He allowed one hit in the sixth inning and three batters in the seventh.

He made a strong impression in his national team debut at the Kyocera Dome, the “home” of the Orix.

The Japanese team cruised to a 5-0 victory. Batting third, Gensuke Kondo (31-SoftBank Hawks) hit two doubles and had two RBIs. Aoyama University senior Misho Nishikawa came off the bench and had two hits and one RBI.

The season opener is more than three weeks away.

Even he was surprised by the fastball’s early velocity, saying in a postgame interview, “I didn’t think it would be this high. I think I’ll go over 160 kilometers if I have a good flow. I hope I can keep changing the record.”

His fastball averaged 154.4 kilometers last season. He finished second overall behind Chiba Lotte’s “monster pitcher” Roki Sasaki (23). Sasaki clocked 159.1 kilometers, but the gap is likely to close.

Japanese media reported that Yamashita focused on strength training after being sidelined with back pain last summer. 스포츠토토 He put on 7 kilograms of weight and gained muscle. He got stronger.

1.90 meters, 105 kilograms. In good physical condition.

Signed with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 rookie draft. In his second year, he made his debut in the first team, and it was the opening game. It was a shocking first professional game. It was the first time a pitcher without a first-team record had started a regular season opener since 1950, when Nippon Professional Baseball was split into two leagues, the Pacific League and the Central League.

There was a reason:

The “one-two punch” of Yoshinobu Yamamoto (26, Los Angeles Dodgers) and Hiroya Miyagi (23) needed time to regroup after returning from the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in late March. Yamashita pitched 15⅓ innings in exhibition games last year, striking out 23 batters with eight hits and a 2.35 ERA. He earned the trust of the coaching staff.

On March 31 of last year, he pitched in the opening game against the Seibu Lions. He pitched 5⅓ innings, allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. Despite being denied the win in his debut, he contributed to a 3-2 victory. Threw a career-high 157 mph in his first-team debut.

Went 9-3 with a 1.61 ERA in 16 appearances last year and was named Pacific League Rookie of the Year. Threw 95 innings in his first year. Injuries slowed him down in the second half of the season.

The Orix, looking for their third straight league title, lost two pillars of their mound last winter. Yamamoto left for the major leagues, and left-hander Sachiya Yamasaki, 31, who won 11 games last year, joined the Nippon Ham Fighters. Yamashita should be a “one-two punch” with Miyagi this season.

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