Is Hisanori Takahashi The Answer?

Who is Hisanori Takahashi?

Peering into the vacuum of 2010, I would have to say he has been one of the most consistent relievers for the Mets this season.  And…well, that’s about it.

The rumblings we’ve been hearing on blogs, news sites and other media forms are true: Takahashi is scheduled to make Friday night’s start against the Yankees, which was projected to be Jonathon Niese’s.  The other news there is that Niese apparently has a “mild” hamstring strain and will be re-evaluated in a few days…of course, we can only take what the Mets training staff says with a grain of salt…that’s just a little joke.  I hope.

Of course, most Mets fans were led to believe he was slated to start in place of Oliver Perez; however, making an appearance in Jon Niese’s hamstring-pull-shortened game on Sunday — this sounds like a theme here — limited him to fillling in for Niese again this week.

What I wanted to know is what kind of pitcher Takahashi was in Japan (he played for the Yomiuri Giants for 10 seasons) and whether he could pass the sniff test of being a starter in the National League.

Currently, Takahashi is sporting a 3-1 record after appearing in 15 games as a reliever, with 26 innings pitched, an ERA 3.12, a WHIP of 1.385 and 33 strikeouts.

As a Yomiuri Giant, Takahashi has a lifetime record of 70-59 from 2000-09, with 2006 being an “anomaly” of a year yielding 15 saves.  He has an average ERA of 3.67 and 933 total Ks over that period of time.  He also has an average 1.26 WHIP over that course, according to his scouting report.

Also mentioned in his scouting report was that lefties hit him hard (.300 BA) and that he is not a real innings eater, hence why he was sent to the bullpen here.  He is also 35 years old.  Being there was no mention of whether he is the Yomiuri Giant version of Jamie Moyer (I kid), it appears to me that the Mets could expect a good 5-6 inning outing from him.  That is, if the Yankees decide not to tee off him in the opening innings.

I think we can glean a few things from a Takahashi start.  One is, his stats suggest that he could be a formidable fifth starter who can give them a good chance to win as long as the offense comes through.  Two is that the few times we’ve seen him perform on a dime he has really gone above and beyond what anyone has expected.  In other words, even with the value of the stats we were given before he even pitched a game with the Mets, the amount of goodwill he has created so far this season should translate into a productive start.

Notice I said “should” translate.  If he flunks out, I’ll use that as my backup argument.  Hisanori Takahashi may not exactly be “Mr. Right” for the rotation, but he’s “Mr. Right Now,” so we should take it.  I am looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in his start on Friday.

Heck, it’s gotta be better than what we’ve seen from the back-end of the rotation the last few starts.