Kohei Arihara may have been a disappointment for the Texas Rangers, but that does not mean his days as an effective pitcher are over.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are hoping that is the case. According to Hochi Sports, the Hawks have signed Arihara in an attempt to replace Kodai Senga in their rotation.
Kohei Arihara returns to NPB after disastrous stint with Texas Rangers
Arihara had been a solid pitcher during his time in Nippon Professional Baseball before heading stateside. He had posted a 3.74 ERA and a 1.209 WHiP over his 836 innings, striking out 626 batters with 194 walks. While he was not expected to be a top of the rotation starter in the majors, the expectation was that he would be a solid option going forward.
That would not be the case. Arihara struggled during his time in the majors, posting a 7.57 ERA and a 1.731 WHiP in his 60.2 innings, striking out 38 batters with 24 walks while allowing 15 homers. Opponents teed off on his offerings as he allowed a .320/.393/.617 batting line in their 286 plate appearances as he just could not get major league hitters out.
Those struggles do not necessarily mean that Arihara’s days as an effective pitcher are done. He is just 30 years old and does have a track record of success in Japan. It is entirely possible that he can rediscover his form as part of the Hawks’ rotation.
However, the Hawks should not expect Arihara to be a true replacement for Senga. Even at his best, Arihara was more of a solid option than the dominant force Senga had been. He should be a solid piece in his return to Japan, but that is about all that should be expected.
Kohei Arihara is heading back to Japan. The former Texas Rangers pitcher has signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks for 2023.