Japanese superstar Roki Sasaki threw a perfect eight in the first start after a perfect 19-kick match

Last weekend, Rocky Sasaki, Chiba Lotte Marines, threw Japan’s first perfect match in 28 years. He has hit a record 19 hitters, including the record 13 in a row at a single point. It was one of the greatest promotions ever, in any professional league.

On Sunday, Sasaki almost did it again.

The 20-year-old right-hander fired a perfect eight on his first start since the perfect match. Hit 14 strokes. Sasaki was pulled over after 102 throws to protect his arm – he made 105 in a perfect match – and the match was goalless. Hokkaido Nippon Ham fighters won the match 1-0 in 10 runs.

“That was very exciting, I have no words. Our guys got stuck there, we kept saying on the bench let’s make something happen,” defensive player Chusei Manami, who won the match at home with the fighters, told Japan Times after the match. “(Sasaki) is so hard. The way the thorn ball falls? Forget it.”

Sasaki is up 51, down 51 with 33 hits in his last two games. 52 consecutive hitters retired overall, setting a new record for Nippon Professional Baseball. The MLB record is 46 consecutive hitters retired by right-hand Yusmeiro Petit with the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

Four starts per season, and Sasaki has allowed four runs in seven strokes and walked twice in 31 runs. He hit 56. We have RJ Anderson wrote an exploratory report for Sasaki after his perfect play. This is an excerpt:

According to data obtained by CBS Sports since the start of Sunday, Sasaki’s average speedball was better than 99.5 mph and featured 19.8 inches of induced vertical drop and 15.4 inches of horizontal cutout. This is an unparalleled combination of elite.

The Sasaki splitter clocks in at 91.2 mph with 2.30 inches of induced vertical breakage and 7.80 inches of horizontal splitter. That pace would take second place, after Hirokazu Sawamura of the Boston Red Sox. Meanwhile, Sasaki’s break numbers compare better to Blake Parker’s (2.9, 7.40). Parker’s intervening season produced a 36 percent whiff rate and an average of 0.232 vs.

Reportedly, Sasaki was chased by MLB clubs when he was still in high school. He chose to stay in Japan and was the first pick in the 2019 NPB Draft. Sasaki made his Marine debut last season, throwing an 83 1/3 innings with a 1.84 ERA and 87 strikes.

When — and if — Sasaki will come to MLB is unknown. He must accumulate nine years of service time to be eligible for the free international, and while he can require Marines to send him to MLB teams before then, they are not obligated to do so. The Marines have only posted one player in their history: player Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2010.

Even if the Marines deploy Sasaki, MLB’s international free agent system will subject him to bonus pools, limiting his earning potential (the largest bonus pools are in the $6 million to $7 million range each year). Sasaki will have to wait until he’s 25 to avoid bonus pools. The international draft, which is being discussed, would limit his options and increase his potential winnings.

The best chance for MLB fans to watch Sasaki will be next spring’s World Baseball Classic. The tournament will return next year Japan usually takes its best professional players to the event. Sasaki is clearly one of the best shooters in his league.

No MLB player has ever thrown two perfect games, let alone perfect games on back-to-back starts. Johnny Vander Meer, with the 1938 Cincinnati Reds, is the only bowler in history who hasn’t bowled hitters at back-to-back starts.