Igawa pitching o-Kei at Scranton

Getting a read on Damon Oppenheimer
Why can't the Pirates develop pitchers?

After a disastrous introduction to the Major Leagues, the Yankees sent Kei Igawa down to Tampa to work with pitching guru Billy Connors. And then he disappeared. Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard and Matt DeSalvo filled in at the back end of the rotation, and now Roger Clemens’ return is upon us.

However, down in the Minors, Igawa is quietly showing some progress. After two alright starts at Tampa, the Yanks sent Igawa to AAA Scranton. In his first start, he was bad, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings. But lately, he’s shown some progress.

Tonight, Igawa threw 100 pitches in 7 innings. Sixty-two of those were strikes. That’s about on par with his MLB strike percentage of 61, but the results were different than we remember. He gave up just 5 hits and 1 earned run while walking 2 and striking out 8. His totals from this two most recent AAA starts look good: 14 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 17 K.

With Clippard set to start on Sunday and Igawa pitching well, I have to wonder if the pressure will start to mount just a little on young Tyler. If Clippard scuffles — and there is nothing to indicate he will — the Yanks may consider giving their expensive Japanese import another shot at the Majors.

But this may not be a good idea. Tonight, Igawa pitched well, but he got 9 fly-ball outs and only 4 ground-ball outs. In his previous start, he recorded 6 fly-ball outs and 5 ground-ball outs. Those numbers are less than impressive.

In April, Igawa’s problem came on the long ball. He has already surrendered 8 home runs in in 30.2 innings. While he’s limited the number of home runs he’s given up in the Minors, I’m not yet convinced he’ll be a viable option in the Majors. As long as the Yanks have other options, I say they should keep using him, money be damned.

Getting a read on Damon Oppenheimer
Why can't the Pirates develop pitchers?
  • Stuart

    at least it appears he is becoming functional.

    with clemens going on the roster I think they should dfa vizciano and villone and also call back up Thompson 13 pitchers is ridiculous. they should have 12; the 5 starters, mariano, bruney, proctor, farnsworthless, henn, myers, and britton.

    do some teams have only 11 pitchers????

  • dave

    i think he should be brought up after a couple more starts with his new found mechanics – but as the long-man on the staff, atleast for now until (God forbid) another injury or a Clippard downfall occurs

  • http://www.yanksblog.com James Varghese

    Hey – it looks like Eric Duncan is on the DL with a wrist injury. Apparently, it’s been bothering him all season…which would explain the power drop.

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  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    James, I heard it was a sprained thumb.

  • Neil

    It wasn’t Connors (thank goodness). As Cashman stated to Pete Abraham, Nardi Contreras and Gil Patterson worked with Igawa. Connors was following around Clemens (I saw him in every rehab start). No doubt he’s been regaling Roger with stories about Seka.

  • Ed

    The numbers look good for Igawa, but I am not so sure anything has changed with him. What I would really like to see is some kind of video to see how he is approaching these batters.

    I would expect that the Japanese leagues have more in common with AAA than they do to the major leagues. So if he is striking the AAA team with high fastballs and that high slider he likes to throw, then the numbers down there really don’t mean anything.

    However if he has turned some kind of a corner and is learning to throw in a way that might be effective at the big league level then I am all for giving him a second chance.

    You guys are alot more into minor league ball than I am, (although I do love my single A short season club in my town) have you seen any video on Igawa?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Well, Ed, considering I just found out that milb.com is still charging me monthly for their milb.tv plan, it would make sense to check out Igawa’s next start, I guess.