Hisashi Iwakuma To Pitch In MLB-Japan All-Star Series


Maybe you’ve heard about the upcoming MLB-Japan All-Star Series. It’s going to be a five-game series between MLB and NPB stars that takes place in Japan between November 10th and 20th. This used to happen every even-number year, dating as far back as 1986, but hasn’t happened since 2006 due to the emergence of the World Baseball Classic. But it’s back now! And it’s pretty cool.

Representing Japan will be the country’s national team, known as “Samurai Japan.” The American representation will be made up of 28 star MLB players. The roster’s still being filled out, and Seattle Mariners ace Hisashi Iwakuma is the latest addition. Iwakuma will get a chance to pitch in his native Tokyo, which is one of the cities where the tour will make stops. The other host cities will be Osaka, Sapporo, and Okinawa.

Iwakuma won’t be the only Mariners representative, as Robinson Cano is also expected to participate. Iwakuma is, however, the only big-name Japanese star currently slated to participate as a member of the MLB side. No offense to Chicago Cubs pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, of course, who will also participate but is hardly a “star.”

It’s not entirely clear who all is going to be on the MLB roster, or how that roster will be determined game-by-game. John Farrell is the manager, this much we know. Some players have been announced, with more additions being made seemingly every now and then.

Some of the bigger names for the MLB team: Cano, Evan Longoria, Yasiel Puig, Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Albert Pujols. Some of the smaller names: Wada, Chris Capuano, Jeremy Guthrie, Randy Choate, Jeff Beliveau. It’ll be a bit of an eccentric mix, but hey, nothing wrong with eccentric. Japanese stars Shohei Otani, Shintaro Fujinami, Tetsuto Yamada, and Takahiro Norimoto will headline for Samurai Japan.

It’s a short series of exhibition games, but there’s no reason to think the resurrected MLB-Japan All-Star Series won’t be terrific entertainment. NPB and MLB are the two most prominent baseball leagues of all time, and the current era represents a new high-water mark for baseball’s international presence. There are plenty of former NPB stars on MLB rosters, and vice versa. Let the intermingling begin!