- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 158 lb.
- School Asia University
- High School PL Gakuen High School
The brother of Satoshi Iriki, pitcher Yusaku Iriki was unsigned out of college due to a circulatory problem. Joining the Honda Giken industrial league team, Iriki was then drafted in 1996 in the first round by the Yomiuri Giants. In 1997 he was Yomiuri's most-used reliever as a rookie, going 1-6 with 2 saves and a 3.10 ERA in 56 relief appearances and one start. He allowed only 64 hits in 90 innings, while whiffing 94 batters.
The next year Iriki was used as a swingman, making 11 starts and 19 relief appearances. He was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA, again struck out over a batter per inning (99 in 98) and allowed just 70 hits. Used in a similar capacity in 1999, Yusaku declined to 1-6, 4.52. He struck out 57 in 79 2/3 innings while getting smacked for 97 hits and 16 homers, over one every five innings. Iriki appeared in just 7 contests with Yomiuri in 2000, going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA.
In 2001 Iriki had a fine recovery, going 13-4 in 26 starts with one save in his only relief appearance and a 3.71 ERA. He was second in the Central League in victories, trailing Shugo Fujii by one. He made his only CL All-Star team that year as the starting pitcher in game one and was relieved by his brother, making it the first time in NPB All-Star history that one brother relieved another on the mound.
Iriki was arguably the weak link in a stellar Yomiuri rotation in 2002 when he went 5-4 with a 3.05 ERA, his lowest to date. He did not pitch in 2003 while recuperating from a right knee injury then was traded to the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Yusaku struggled in his Nippon Ham debut in 2004. The 31-year-old went 2-4 with a 7.20 ERA and allowed 91 baserunners in 45 innings. On a pitiful Nippon Ham staff, he had the highest ERA of anyone who worked 20 or more innings, only two-three years after his best seasons. Iriki rebounded somewhat in 2005, going 6-7 with a 3.35 ERA. He was 9th in the Pacific League in ERA and ranked no higher in any other statistic.
Despite having relatively unimpressive numbers since 2002 and only one All-Star appearance, Iriki decided to try to make the major leagues. He asked to be put into the Posting System by Nippon Ham and they did so on November 22. He was unclaimed two weeks later and the club released him. He signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with the New York Mets on January 18, 2005. Failing to make the team out of spring training, he began the year with the Norfolk Tides. He went 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA in four starts for Norfolk. Less than a month into the season, he tested positive for a substance banned by Organized Baseball and suspended for 50 days. The Mets then released him.
Iriki signed with the Yokohama BayStars for 2008.
Principal source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland