The Seattle Mariners signed relief pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano of Uji, Japan to a one year contract worth $1.6 million. Hirano is entering his third year in Major League Baseball after spending the last two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hirano pitched 62 games with the Diamondbacks in 2019. He had a record of five wins and five losses, one save and an earned run average of 4.75. In 53 innings, Hirano gave up 51 hits, 28 earned runs, seven home runs and 22 walks. Hirano also had 61 strikeouts and had a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 1.38.
Despite the rise in earned run average and WHIP from 2018 to 2019, Hirano did have more strikeouts than innings pitched in 2019. That was something he did not accomplish in 2018 when Hirano only had 59 strikeouts in 66.3333 innings. Still, the Mariners might be concerned that Hirano’s earned run average increased by over two runs from 2.44 to 4.75 from 2018 to 2019 and his WHIP went from an excellent 1.09 in 2018 to a poor 1.38 this past season.
Hirano’s save in 2019 came in a 4-1 Diamondbacks win over the Atlanta Braves on April 18. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning and gave up one hit along with two strikeouts.
Hirano continues the rich tradition of Japanese baseball players on the Mariners. Currently, Seattle has two Japanese players as Hirano is joined by starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi of Marioka. Former Mariners from Japan are pitchers Mac Suzuki of Kobe, Shigetoshi Hasegawa of Kakogawa, Masao Kida of Kokubunji, Kazuhiro Sasaki of Sendai City and Hisashi Iwakuma of Tokyo, outfielders Ichiro Suzuki of Kasugai and Nori Aoki of Miyazaki, catcher Kenji Johjima of Sasebo and shortstop Munenori Kawasaki of Aira.
In 2020, Hirano could be a top setup man for the Mariners in their bullpen. He is projected to join Sam Tuivailala and Zac Grotz of San Mateo, CA, Brandon Brennan of Mission Veijo, CA, Taylor Guilbeau of Baton Rouge, LA, Art Warren of Defiance, OH and Phillips Valdez of San Pedro De Macoris, Dominican Republic.