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Takashi Saitoh

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Note: This page links to major leaguer Takashi Saitoh. For the amateur pitcher of the same name, click here.

Takashi Saitoh

Takashi Saitoh (also transliterated as Takashi Saito)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Takashi Saitoh became a pitcher as a sophomore in high school. He went 15-3 in college with a 1.42 ERA. Following that performance, he was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NPB draft by the Yokohama Taiyo Whales. He debuted with Taiyo the next season, going 0-2 with a 8.44, but he did strike out 21 in 16 innings of work. In 1993, the 23-year-old hurler entered the club (now known as the Yokohama BayStars) rotation and went 8-10, 3.81. 1994 was a fairly productive season at 9-12, 3.13, 8th in the Central League in ERA and earning an All-Star spot. On the other hand, he led the league in losses (his 12 were the second-lowest total by a CL leader to that point). In '95, Takashi went 8-9 with a 3.94 ERA. In one contest, he carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning but Katsuyuki Dobashi homered and Saitoh lost the outing 1-0.

In 1996, Saitoh was again an All-Star and finished the year at 10-10, 3.29. He was fifth in the league in ERA and led in both strikeouts (206 in 196 2/3 IP) and homers allowed (31, including 7 to Hideki Matsui alone). He had shoulder surgery after the season and missed the entire '97 campaign. In 1998, Takashi had his first winning season at 13-5 with one save and a 2.94 ERA, sixth in the Central. The next year, he had a 14-3 campaign with a 3.95 earned run average. He again led in homers surrendered (32 in 184 2/3 IP) and made his third All-Star season.

At age 30 in 2000, the right-hander had a 6-10, 5.52 year, his worst since becoming a regular on the club. He was moved out of the rotation in '01 and found new life as a closer, going 7-1 with 27 saves and a 1.67 ERA, striking out 60 and walking 14 in 64 2/3 IP. He made his fourth All-Star team. In 2002, the BayStars reliever had a 1-2 year with 20 saves and a 2.45 ERA. Becoming a free agent, he attempted to move to Major League Baseball but could not find anyone willing to top Yokohama's salary bid (18,000-man).

In 2003, Takashi moved back into the rotation and was the ace of a weak staff at 6-7, 4.18. He led the league with 9 hit batsmen, marking his third time leading in that category. The next season, Saitoh went 2-5, 7.71, with a WHIP of 1.74 and 12 homers allowed in 44 1/3 innings as a starter-reliever. In the 15th year after he was drafted, the 35-year-old went 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA, moving mainly back into the rotation. Overall, he went 87-80 with 48 saves and a 3.80 ERA for the Whales/BayStars franchise. They released him after the season.

Again trying his luck in MLB, he caught on with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Saitoh went 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA for the 2006 Dodgers, and led all MLB relievers with 107 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched.

Saitoh opened the 2007 season as the Dodgers closer. He left a June 3 game against Pittsburgh with left hamstring tightness and missed several contests. Still, he made the All-Star team and finished the year with over 30 saves and was back in the same role in 2008. However, he was injured again, and Jonathan Broxton took over for him, pitching very well. As a result, Saitoh had to look for another team and found a job with the Boston Red Sox in 2009, pitching in the late innings when one of the team's other relievers was not available. He was used a few times to close games when Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable.

Main source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • NL All-Star (2007)
  • 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (2007)

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