Roki Sasaki, the Japanese pitching phenom who Major League Baseball team officials expect to be posted this offseason, will miss a second consecutive start this weekend because of right arm discomfort, according to Yahoo Japan. Masato Yoshii, the manager of Sasaki's Chiba Lotte Marines, indicated that there's no timetable on Sasaki's return and that it depends on how he feels.

Sasaki, 22, is one of the most dominant pitchers in the world. He first rose to global acclaim in 2022, when he struck out 19 batters as part of a perfect game. For his NPB career, he's amassed a 1.91 ERA and a 6.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Believe it or not, those marks have declined this season after nine starts that saw him compile a 1.96 ERA and a 3.89 strikeout-to-walk ratio. (We suppose everyone is entitled to a down year now and then.)

CBS Sports offered the following report on Sasaki last winter:

Sasaki has two massive offerings, an upper-90s rising fastball and a devastating splitter/forkball, and a shockingly good feel for throwing strikes based on his age and his stuff. He's struck out 34% of the batters he's faced as a professional, all the while walking just 5% of them. That 29% margin, for reference, would've ranked second in the majors in 2023, behind only Atlanta Braves flamethrower Spencer Strider. Sasaki does need to improve his durability. He was limited to 91 innings last year by an oblique injury, and to date he's cleared the century mark just once. Otherwise, Sasaki can rightly claim to already be one of the planet's most talented pitchers. 

It's unclear if Sasaki will actually be allowed to transfer to MLB this winter. The Marines have great financial incentive to keep him around for a few more years. As it is, Sasaki would be classified as an amateur free agent this winter, subjecting him to international bonus pool limits and greatly suppressing his earning potential and the posting fee amount the Marines would receive in return.

Here's the posting fee breakdown:

  • Contract worth less than $25 million: 20% of contract value
  • Contract worth $25 million to $50 million: $5 million plus 17.5% of amount over $25 million
  • Contract worth more than $50 million: $9.275 million plus 15% of amount over $50 million

If and when Sasaki is permitted to explore his MLB options, the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to be one of his top suitors. The Dodgers already employ Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, two of Sasaki's countrymen and Team Japan teammates. Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman was spotted at Team Japan's workouts ahead of last spring's World Baseball Classic, too.