Shintaro Fijunami is one of the biggest wild cards in the majors this year. He showed why during his outing for the Oakland A’s on Saturday.
First, the positive. Fujinami did not allow a hit over his six innings of work against the Brewers, striking out three batters. However, he allowed two runs because he also issued four walks and uncorked three wild pitches, making his outing far less impressive that it should have been.
Oakland A’s get full Shintaro Fujinami experience
That is essentially the full Fujinami experience. There is no questioning his stuff as his fastball can reach triple digits and fits well with his splitter and slider. The problem is that he does not always know where those pitches will end up. He had battled his command during his time in Japan, even fighting the yips, as he sought to regain the form that had once made him one of the top prospects in Nippon Professional Baseball.
He has continued that type of performance in spring training. Fujinami has allowed just seven hits over his 18.2 innings, striking out 20 batters. He has also issued 17 walks and uncorked six wild pitches. Although he seems more relaxed and able to trust his stuff thus far, his command is going to continue to be a problem.
The A’s need help throughout their pitching staff. Fujinami has the potential to be a top of the rotation arm, something that is lacking in their system. While it is understandable that the A’s want to give him a chance to start, his future is likely to be in the bullpen. Nothing in his spring training performance has changed that perception.
Shintaro Fujinami was unhittable for the Oakland A’s on Saturday. The problem is that his lack of command undid a stellar outing.