San Diego Padres: Kazuhisa Makita could head back to Japan

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Kazuhisa Makita #53 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PETCO Park on September 29, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Kazuhisa Makita #53 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PETCO Park on September 29, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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San Diego Padres reliever Kazuhisa Makita could be heading back where it all began.

Prior to signing with the San Diego Padres, Kazuhisa Makita had put together a respectable career in Japan. The former Seibu Lions pitcher won the Pacific League Rookie of the Year award in 2011, working as a closer in the second half of that season. Makita moved back to the rotation before being converted back to the bullpen in 2016, spending two years as a setup man before heading to San Diego.

However, his time in Japan may not be over. According to reports, the Lions may be looking to bring Makita back to the fold.

Makita’s time with the Padres has been a disappointment. He lasted all of 27 games with San Diego in 20181, posting a 5.40 ERA in his 35 innings. While Makita had a solid 1.257 WHiP, striking out 37 batters, he also allowed seven homers while the opposition had a 42% line drive rate against his offerings.

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It is possible that the Padres simply mismanaged Makita. He permitted a solid .211/.243/.366 batting line in 75 plate appearances against righties. However, in the 74 plate appearances against lefties, they hit Makita for a .274/.384/.532 clip.

He did not get a chance to make a better impression this season. He spent most of 2019 at AA, getting only eight games at the AAA level. He pitched relatively well, posting a 3.33 ERA and a 1.109 WHiP, striking out 67 batters with 11 walks over his 70.1 innings. Yet, he was not brought back to the majors when rosters expanded.

Chances are, this will be Makita’s final season stateside. While the Padres do have him under team control for the next five years, it is hard to imagine that they would want to spend the resources on a soon to be 35 year old reliever. However, he could easily return to Japan and become a key part of the Lions bullpen.

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Kazuhisa Makita did not work out for the San Diego Padres. That does not mean his career is over, as he may well head back to Japan and rejoin the Seibu Lions.