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Is Kazuhisa Ishii the New Chan Ho Park?

re-season skeptics became believers after watching Kasuhisa Ishii compile a 1.53 ERA while winning his first three official games as a Dodger starting pitcher. The 10-year Yakult Swallows veteran notched the first win of his new life by methodically icing 10 Colorado batters with a savvy mix of sliders and fastballs while giving up only 2 hits in a 9-2 slugfest. In San Diego he held the Padres to 2 hits and no runs in six full innings for win number two. In his third outing Ishii looked a tad tired but composed as he killed six batters in a 6-3 firefight in Colorado.
Kaz Ishii
Replacing Chan Ho Park or Kevin Brown?

     That isn't bad for a guy who just cleared customs February 20 and went straight to the Dodgers's Vero Beach camp. Less than two weeks earlier he had signed a $12.3 million 4-year contract after the Dodgers beat out three other teams for arguably Japan's best pitcher. Ishii had led the Yakult Swallows to the 2001 championship, silencing quite a few Japanese skeptics.
     The 187-pound 6-footer arrived in the nick of time. Chan Ho Park had left for Texas (where, after his first game, he was put on a 15-day disability for a pulled right hamstring). Top Dodgers starter Kevin Brown is struggling to perform with right-elbow pain. Born-again Dodger starter Hideo Nomo isn't quite able to rekindle the glory of his first L.A. incarnation. At the moment newcomer Kazuhisa Ishii is the best starter on the Dodgers lineup. Some are tempted to start comparing him to Chan Ho Park in peak form.
     Despite being an 11-year veteran, Ishii is only 28, the same age as Park who began his pro career with the Dodgers in 1995. Ishii's career 3.38 ERA in 244 games over 10 years in Japan is better than Park's 3.83 in 222 MLB games and approaches the career 3.19 of fading Brown. That may be comparing apples and oranges, but Ishii has shown the knack for notching up his pitching heat in direct proportion to the level the pressure. That makes him a natural conserver and his best years may well be ahead.
     Is Ishii the new Chan Ho Park? Or maybe the next Randy Johnson?

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(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:01:30 PM)

personally i love the jap pack in every player in it and kaz is definitely up there on my favorites list (next to shinjo, of course). he rocks my socks! :)
   Monday, July 22, 2002 at 22:48:14 (PDT)
If there is a Dodger pitcher who can win 20 games this season it will be Kazuhisa Ishii.

I was really disappointed when Chan Ho Park chose to sign with the Texas Rangers last year. However, it appears that the Dodgers got the better deal. Park had a pitiful start this past Friday. He only last 1 1/2 innings and give up 8 runs.

Ishii, Hideo Nomo and Odalis Perez have made quality starts this year and give LA a chance of winning their division pennant. We'll see.
Geoff DB    Saturday, June 08, 2002 at 17:43:03 (PDT)
Here's an ESPN article about Ichiro, Ishii, and other Asian athletes that's getting a lot of attention (got picked up by MSN):

I found it to be completely insulting. It assumes 1) that American teams are taking on Japanese players to widen their fan base and sell more merchandise to Asians and Asian-Americans, and not because these players are the best and deserve to be on the teams and 2) that only Asians and Asian-Americans are fans of Ichiro and other Asian athletes--it only shows pictures of Japanese fans with their Ichiro signs, but anyone who has been to a Mariners' game can tell you that there are more fans of Ichiro with t-shirts and signs who are non-Asian than Asian.

This is an example of an article written in the name of "diversity" that actually ends up being a lot more divisive in its effects.
   Monday, May 13, 2002 at 18:46:07 (PDT)
Hey, Chitown Depressant and JJK,

You guys must be cringeing with embrassment now that Ishii is 6-0!

He's having the best rookie start since Orel Herscheizer and Fernando Valenzuela. I'd say he's going to make Randy Johnson look like a slacker by the time this season ends.
Kaz Rocks Harder
   Saturday, May 4, 2002 at 15:12:33 (PDT)
Chitown Depressant and JJK,

Now that Ishii is 5-0 maybe you guys will see his potential. Of course he isn't a Randy Johnson yet, but Johnson's 38 and has been playing MLB 15 years. It also took him 5 years in the minors even to make it to the show. His first years in Montreal weren't half as good as Ishii's. Also, he isn't 6-11, he's 6-10. His pitches top out at 100 but he usually pitches between about 88 and 95 most of the time, not too different from Ishii.

All in all, I'd say Kaz Ishii is about as good as any pitcher at his stage of career. And I agree that he knows how to pace himself. He'll only get better.
Kaz Rocks
   Monday, April 29, 2002 at 20:18:52 (PDT)