Not exactly “Christmas come early” for Pittsburgh Pirates fans, but the Bucs signed former-Met reliever Ryota Igarashi to a Minor League deal today. Igarashi, who was signed to a two-year, $3 million deal before the 2010 season, was pathetically terrible at the Major League level–but actually fared quite well against Triple-A hitters.
The righty struggled in his debut season during 2010 for the Mets, posting a dismal 7.12 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 1.39 K/BB. The import was demoted to the Minors where he fared better (3.00 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 3.86 K/BB), but surrendered far too many hits (10.5 Hits/9).
Unfortunately for Ryota, his 2011 season wasn’t much better. The 32 year-old posted a 4.66 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, and 1.50 K/BB in 38.6 innings. While the righty did strikeout more hitters in 2011 than he did in 2010, he also walked more batters (from 5.3 BB/9 to 6.5 BB/9) and allowed more hits (from 8.6 Hits/9 to 10.0 Hits/9).
In addition, none of the reliever’s three pitches were effective. Igarashi threw a fastball, curve-ball, and split-finger, registering a -0.3, -2.1, and -4.5 RAA, respectively. Also, his fastball’s average MPH dropped from 93.7 in 2010 to 92.3 in 2011. Interestingly enough, Igarashi sported respectable GB% (45.6%) and HR/FB (5.4%) rates, but even with a seemingly elevated .360 BABIP, his 4.66 ERA was justified (4.54 xFIP).
Given Igarashi’s stint in Triple-A (0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 3.78 K/bb) during 2011, there’s reason for the Pirates to give the guy another shot.