The Shintaro Fujinami Era has not gotten off to a stellar beginning with the Oakland A’s.
While Fujinami had a solid outing against the Mets on April 15, that is the highlight of his season. He has posted an absolutely dreadful 14.40 ERA and a 2.067 WHiP over his 15 innings, striking out 12 batters with 12 walks. His four losses and 24 earned runs allowed lead the majors. The A’s had clearly been hoping for more when they took a chance on his stuff translating to the majors. If Fujinami is going to find success, it may come in relief as he is being moved to a role in the bullpen.
Oakland A’s may have important bullpen piece in Shintaro Fujinami
The stuff is there for Fujinami. His fastball velocity ranks in the 92nd percentile, even if his spin rate is amongst the worst in the league. He is also getting plenty of swings and misses, ranking in the 67th percentile in whiff rate. Opponents may not be chasing his pitches off the plate, but he is still getting strikeouts and misses in the zone.
This move could be exactly what Fujinami needs to unlock his potential in the majors. He has performed well the first time through a lineup, holding the opposition to a .188/.278/.375 batting line, issuing four walks with ten strikeouts. That number explodes when a lineup sees Fujinami a second time, as he has allowed a .458/.576/.625 bating line with six walks and two strikeouts.
The A’s are not ready to count Fujinami out as a starter. Mark Kotsay did say that it is possible that he could return to the rotation once he regains his fastball command. Instead, it would be best if he was put in a situation where he could find success. That could come in the bullpen, potentially in a fireman type role. Fujinami could be worth the money for the A’s in a different spot.
The Oakland A’s are moving Shintaro Fujinami to the bullpen. He should have been used as a reliever from the very beginning.