NEW YORK – Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Koji Uehara teamed up for an exceptionally strong showing by Japanese pitchers in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
Darvish of the Texas Rangers was second and Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners came in third Wednesday, marking the highest finishes for Japanese pitchers in any Cy Young competition. Uehara of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox was seventh.
Detroit ace Max Scherzer won the award. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL award.
“It was an honor to be a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award,” Darvish said in a statement. “Both Max Scherzer and Hisashi Iwakuma had tremendous seasons. Max is a very deserving winner.
“I would like to thank my teammates, the entire Texas Rangers organization, and most of all, the fans, for their ongoing support. I look forward to the 2014 season and helping my team to achieve our goal: to bring a World Series championship to Texas.”
Darvish led the majors with 277 strikeouts. He went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA.
Until this year, the top Cy Young finishes for Japanese pitchers had been fourth place, by Hideo Nomo in the NL in 1995 and 1996, and by Daisuke Matsuzaka in the AL in 2008.
Takashi Saito, eighth in the 2006 NL balloting, and Darvish, who finished ninth last year, were the only other Japanese pitchers to receive Cy Young votes until this season.
Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts for the Mariners.
“It is such an honor to be one of the finalists for the best award as a pitcher. I had never thought I would become a finalist here in the U.S., so this is very special to me and is a big surprise,” Iwakuma said in a statement.
Iwakuma said he’s gradually started to prepare himself for the 2014 season. Next week, he plans to take part in a baseball clinic in Sendai and the Tohoku region that was devastated in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
“During this time of the year, I like to take my time to give back to the city I played for that supported me for many years and give spirit to the people and kids that dream about baseball,” he said.
Posting change accepted
The Japanese baseball players association has accepted revisions to the current posting system that allows Japanese players ineligible for free agency to move to the majors, limited to a period of two years, Toru Matsubara, executive director of the association, said Thursday.
The formal agreement makes it possible for Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka, a two-time Sawamura Award winner who went a perfect 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA during the regular season for the Japan Series champions, to move to the major leagues this offseason.
Nippon Pro Baseball and Major League Baseball will create an article for the revision which is set to be approved by an NPB committee on Monday. Players could start applying to move under the system as early as Wednesday according to sources.