Nao Higashihama

From BR Bullpen


Nao Higashihama (東浜 巨)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 176 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Nao Higashihama has pitched in Nippon Pro Baseball and for the Japanese national team.

Higashihama pitched for Japan when they won the 2009 Asian Championship; the staff also included Tomoyuki Sugano, Hirokazu Sawamura and Yusuke Nomura. [1] The Yokohama BayStars, Seibu Lions and Softbank Hawks all picked him first in the 2012 NPB draft; Softbank won the lottery to his rights. [2] He had a rough debut on April 11, 2013 against the Orix Buffaloes, giving up a grand slam to Aarom Baldiris in the first inning. He gave up 7 hits and 6 runs (1 earned) in 3 1/3 IP; Mu-young Kim relieved. [3] He was 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA with the big club, though, that year, and 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA in the minors. [4]

He played for the Gigantes de Carolina that winter and was sharp at 4-1, 3.15 with 42 K:10 BB in 40 IP. He was 8th in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in ERA (between Yuya Iida and Jonathan Albaladejo), tied for first in wins (with Víctor Mateo, James Houser and Adalberto Flores) and was second in Ks (4 behind Mateo). [5] He was 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 7 games for the Hawks in 2014 but walked 23 in 35 1/3 IP. In the minors, he was 9-5 with a 2.11 ERA. He was second in the Western League in ERA, .09 behind 2009 national team teammate Kazuhito Futagami and he tied Takumi Akiyama and Iida for the most wins. [6] In the 2014 Japan Series, he played a small role in the Hawks' title run; he relieved a wild Kenichi Nakata with a 2-2 tie in the 4th inning of game 4 and shut out the Hanshin Tigers for 3 innings before Yuito Mori relieved. Softbank would rally to win the game. [7]

The Okinawa native struggled again with the big club in 2015 (1-2, 4.82 ERA, 1.82 WHIP) while again starring on the farm (4-2, 4 Sv, 2.05 ERA, 16 BB in 88 IP). He was second in the WL in ERA again, this time .39 behind teammate Sho Iwasaki. [8] He finally made the Hawks' rotation to stay in 2016, going 9-6 with a 3.00 ERA. Had he qualified (he was 8 innings shy), he would have been 7th in ERA. He missed the top 10 in wins by one. [9]

He was 16-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 2017. He was 4th in the PL in ERA (between Kodai Senga and Takayuki Kishi), tied Kikuchi for the win lead and was 7th with 139 whiffs (between Chihiro Kaneko and Manabu Mima. [10] He was 3rd in voting for the 2017 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award behind teammates Dennis Sarfate and Yuki Yanagita. [11] He started twice against Yokohama in the 2017 Japan Series and began both games well before fading in the 6th inning of Game 2 and the 5th inning of Game 6; he finished with a 4.66 ERA and no decisions as Softbank won the Series. [12]

Higashihama fell to 7-5, 3.32 in 2018 while missing time with injuries. He won game 4 of the 2018 Japan Series as the Hawks defended their title, beating Nomura and the Hiroshima Carp. He went five innings, allowing one run (on a Seiya Suzuki homer), before Liván Moinelo took over. [13] He pitched for Japan when they beat the MLB All-Stars 5 games to 1; he started game 5 and went 3 innings (6 H, BB, 3 R), including a Rhys Hoskins 2-run homer. He was relieved by Haruhiro Hamaguchi and Japan would rally to win the game. [14]

One of his charitable works has been with coral reef restoration, donating coral seeds for each game he wins. [15]