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Phillies could look to Japan for a lefty starter

Yusei Kikuchi
Yusei Kikuchi of the Seibu Lions pitches against the Rakuten Eagles in Game One of the best-of-three first stage of the Pacific League Climax Series at MetLife Dome in Tokorozawa, Japan, on Oct. 14, 2017. Kikuchi threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Teams often turn to Japanese pitching sensations to find help for their starting rotation. The results have been mixed over the years, with some having long MLB careers and others flaming out in relatively quick order. The next starter that teams have on their radar is left-hander Yusei Kikuchi.

The 27-year old has scouts interested in him and there is talk that a number of teams may look to sign him this winter. Jon Heyman of FanCred names the Phillies, Padres, Dodgers and Royals as the teams who have done the most scouting of Kikuchi and seem to have the most interest in him. The Phillies rotation has been absent a left-hander for the past few seasons until Ranger Suarez made two starts this summer.

There are also a number of left-handers – including former Phillies J.A. Happ and Cole Hamels – on the free agent market this winter.

Kikuchi is said to throw a low-90s fastball with a cutter, slider and a change-up. He is said to pitch up in the zone and profiles as a middle of the rotation starter. Over eight professional seasons, Kikuchi has pitched in 162 games with a 73-48 record and a 2.82 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP. In those games, he has thrown 1,028 1/3 innings with 15 complete games and seven shutouts and 919 strikeouts.

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