Roki Sasaki was done for the 2023 season. He had been diagnosed with a torn left oblique at the end of July, an injury that typically has a two month recovery time. The hope was that he would get healthy, go through a normal offseason, and be ready to dominate once again in 2024.
Well, so much for those plans. Sasaki has healed faster than expected and is set to return to the mound on Sunday. Yakyu Cosmopolitan further reported that Sasaki will be eased back into action and is unlikely to pitch five innings in his first outing.
Roki Sasaki hoping to put injury behind him
On the whole, a torn oblique is not something to be overly concerned about. It is also not surprising that he would have that sort of an injury given how hard he throws and relatively slight frame. It is also encouraging that he was able to bounce back this quickly and return to action this year.
There will be plenty of eyes on Sasaki as he makes his return. He had been utterly dominant before being sidelined, posting a 1.48 ERA and a 0.706 WHiP in his 85 innings, striking out 130 batters with 15 walks. While it is unlikely he will return to that form after six weeks off, his performance down the stretch could assuage any concerns going forward.
Ultimately, it is a matter of protecting Sasaki. He is one of the brightest stars in Nippon Professional Baseball, a key part of the Chiba Lotte Marines success. Sasaki is also expected to come stateside at some point, hoping to dominate in the majors as well. He may be healthy, but it is prudent to make certain he will be in 2024 and beyond as well.
Roki Sasaki is making his return to the mound on Sunday. The Chiba Lotte Marines will need to be cautious with him over the final few weeks.