MLB debuts - Takashi Saito
Oh, boy. We've got a bit of catching up to do.
Interestingly, this season has featured a couple more debuts by ex-Japan League players. The Dodgers signed 36 year old reliever Takashi Saito back in February. Saito racked up over 1500 innings in Japan though only held a closers role for a couple of years. Over 13 seasons and 339 games in Japan, he had a record of 87-80 and 48 saves with an ERA of 3.80.
Saito was called up by Los Angeles on 7 April and made his debut on 9 April pitching 2/3 innings in a 6-3 loss at Philadelphia. He got a couple of groundouts on 4 pitches in the 8th preserving what was then a 3-3 tie. Tim Hamulack yielded a 3 run shot to Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the 9th, which handed victory to the Phils.
Saito played for the Taiyo Whales, who became the Yokohama Baystars, in Japan's Central League. He's not the first Japanese free agent pitcher signed by the Dodgers. Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Masao Kida and Norihiro Nakamura all jumped across the Pacific straight to LA.
Update: Recently, with Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne still on the DL and Jonathan Broxton struggling in the closer role, the Dodgers have considered using Saito as a closer. As of 27 May, he's had two save opportunities both of which have been converted.
Baseball Cube (includes Japanese stats)