Yukihiro Nishizaki

From BR Bullpen

YukihiroNishizaki.jpg

Yukihiro Nishizaki

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.

Yukihiro Nishizaki was a 7-time All-Star pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Nishizaki was 37-13 in the Aichi Big Six University League. He once struck out 23 batters in a game. He pitched for the Japanese national team in the 1986 Amateur World Series, going 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA. The Nippon Ham Fighters took him in the first round that year.

The right-hander went 15-7 with a 2.89 ERA in a strong rookie year in 1987. He was 5th in the Pacific League in ERA but lost Rookie of the Year honors to another pitcher, Hideyuki Awano. Nishzaki was the Fighters' Opening Day starter in 1988, the first of eight such assignments (including four in a row). For the season, his record was 15-11, 2.50 with 181 strikeouts and 211 hits in 241 2/3 IP. He made his first PL All-Star team and led the circuit in innings, wins (tied with Hiroaki Matsuura and Hisanobu Watanabe), batters faced (983), complete games (21 in 29 appearances) and hits allowed. He finished third in ERA behind Hirofumi Kono and Taigen Kaku. He won the Gold Glove at pitcher and made the Best Ten as the PL's top hurler.

Nishizaki remained sharp in 1989 by going 16-9 with a 3.55 ERA. He had more strikeouts (164) than hits allowed (160) in his 208 innings and made his second All-Star team. He was 8th in the league in ERA. An All-Star again in 1990, he fell to 12-13, 3.88 and was still 10th in the league in ERA.

In 1991, Yukihiro went 10-6 with a save and a 3.16 ERA, allowing 93 hits in 116 2/3 IP. He fell to 6-10 with a 4.08 ERA in 1992. In 1993, the Shiga native rebounded with a 11-9 record, a save and a 2.20 ERA. He gave up just 121 hits in 175 2/3 IP while whiffing 143. He made his 4th All-Star team that year and finished second in ERA, trailing only Kimiyasu Kudoh.

Nishizaki had his worst year yet in 1994 at 8-14, 4.08, though he still made the All-Star team. He led the league in both losses and hits allowed (202). He was 7-8 with a 3.61 ERA in 1995 and once again had more strikeouts (146) than hits allowed (140) though he walked a league-high 102 in 177 innings. He made his sixth All-Star team. On July 5, he struck out 12 and walked just one in a no-hitter versus the Seibu Lions.

Yukihiro improved his record to 14-7, 2.87 in 1996 with 152 hits in 181 2/3 IP. He made his 7th and last PL All-Star team. He did lead the league in walks, but cut his total to 89. He was 4th in the league in ERA behind Hideki Irabu, Eric Hillman and Hidekazu Watanabe.

Nishizaki only pitched 8 games in 1997, going 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA to end his career with the Fighters. He moved to Seibu in 1998 and only pitched 7 innings, going 1-0 with 2 hits and no runs allowed. He struck out 3 batters in 1 2/3 IP in the 1998 Japan Series, his lone Japan Series, and saved one game but Seibu fell in 6 to the Yokohama BayStars.

For Seibu in 1999, Nishizaki was a reliable closer, going 2-1 with 20 saves in 33 games. He was third in the league in saves behind foreigners Brian Warren and Rodney Pedraza. He was 6-1 with a 3.81 ERA in 2000 in a swingman role as Shinji Mori took over as closer.

Nishizaki was 1-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 8 games in 2001 to end his career.

Overall, Nishizaki was 127-102 with 22 saves and a 3.25 ERA in 330 career games in NPB. He allowed only 1,723 hits in 2,004 innings and struck out 1,573 while walking 809.

Sources: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland, Defunct IBAF site