About 2 minutes reading time.

NPB: Fighters Koki Kitayama Strikes Out 10 in Back-to-Back Outings

 Conor Liguori  |    Apr 11th, 2024 2:49pm EDT

Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters starting pitcher Koki Kitayama struck out ten batters in a 6-3 loss to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Thursday. It was his second consecutive start to begin the Nippon Professional Baseball season with ten strikeouts.

The 25-year-old threw 5.2 innings on Thursday, allowing three earned runs on three hits and walking four. 2024 is Kitayama’s third season in NPB.

On Wednesday, April 3, Kitayama allowed just one earned run and two hits with ten strikeouts in 6.1 innings in a 4-2 win against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He took a perfect game bid into the seventh inning but issued a walk to end the pursuit of perfection. Later in the inning, Kitayama allowed two singles that scored the Eagles’ first game run.

“I was absolutely gassed out there, so I was thinking it would be a good thing to give up a hit,” he told reporters after the game. “However, I want to train more so I can actually achieve that going forward.”

Kitayama has been one of the more impressive NPB starting pitchers thus far in 2024. He has a similar windup to former Orix Buffaloes superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with virtually no leg kick and an over-the-top arm slot. Kitayama threw his fastball up in the zone against the Eagles, and his perfectly spotted changeup had hitters off balance.

After former Fighters’ starting pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball, the Fighters may have found his replacement at the front of the rotation in Kitayama.

After triggering an assignment clause in his contract, Uwasawa was traded to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations on March 27 and was assigned to extended spring training.

The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (5-5) will play their next game on Friday, April 12, at 5 a.m. EST against the Orix Buffaloes (5-7) at the Kyocera Dome Osaka in Osaka, Osaka, Japan.

Additional High-Quality NPB Starts Thus Far in 2024

RHP Shoki Murakami (Hanshin Tigers) – 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8 K in a 1-0 win against Hiroshima Toyo Carp on April 9

RHP Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) – 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 9 K in a 5-2 win against Orix Buffaloes on April 7

LHP Kazuya Ojima (Chiba Lotte Marines) – 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 6 K in a 1-0 win against Orix Buffaloes on April 5

LHP Livan Moinelo (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks) – 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 6 K in a 5-4 win against Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on April 6.