When Major League Baseball teams look for their next dominant shut-down closer, they look far and long for the next shut-down dominant closer. They often come from other teams, or converted set-up relievers or the minor leagues. Sometimes, they will try out former starters and turn them into closer, with that producing a mixed bag of results. But this offseason, at least a half dozen teams are looking to Japan to find their next closer.
Kyuji Fujikawa has been the most dominant closer in Japanese for the past six years. Simply put, he is the Mariano Rivera of Japanese baseball. Fujikawa is 32-years-old, but his stuff is fantastic. He has never had an ERA higher than 2.01, and he has struck out more than 900 batters in a little over 700 innings while pitching in Japan for his career. He has never had an ERA higher than 2.01, and he has racked up 914 strikeouts in 703 career innings in Japan. has drawn interest from at least six teams already this offseason, including the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.