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Cubs Rookie Makes MLB History

Chicago Cubs rookie left-hander Shota Imanaga is putting up eye popping stats to start his major league career. Saturday’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates was Imanaga’s ninth start of 2024. He pitched seven scoreless innings, while giving up just four hits and striking out seven. Just another day at the office for the new fan favorite in Chicago. While his offense didn’t give him the run support to credit him with the win, he still made MLB history.

Cubs Rookie Makes MLB History

Imanaga lowered his ERA on the season to 0.84. That is the lowest ERA by any starting pitcher through their first nine career starts since earned runs became an official stat in 1913. His 0.84 ERA also leads the majors so far this season. Imanaga has gone seven innings in three of his last four starts while allowing just two earned runs. Overall, on the season, Imanaga is 5-0 with 58 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings with nine walks.


Shota Imanaga Posted Impressive Stats In Japan

The Cubs signed Imanaga this past offseason after he played eight seasons for the Yokohama BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan. This is where he earned his nickname “The Throwing Philosopher.” He was a two-time NPB All-Star and also the Central League strikeout champion in 2023. Another high point in his career in Japan was on June 7, 2022 when he threw a no-hitter against the Nippon Ham Fighters. His career ERA in Japan was a solid 3.18.

Imanaga, 30, was one of two-star pitchers to make the jump from NPB to the MLB in 2024. Three weeks before Imanaga signed his four-year, $53 million contract with the Cubs, Yoshinnobu Yamamoto signed a massive $325 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At 25 years old, Yamamoto is five years younger than Imanaga. His career ERA in Japan was just 1.82 over seven seasons. While Yamamoto was the frontrunner in free agency, it’s been Imanaga that has made the biggest impact so far.

Imanaga Was Born To Be A Cub

Putting the Shota Imanaga stats aside, he has quickly become a fan favorite at Wrigley Field. From his quirky comments in press conferences, to his often-comical facial expressions on the mound, Imanaga is entrenching himself in the hearts of Cubs fans. This is a guy who, in his MLB debut at Wrigley, chose “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis as his entrance song. In his introductory press conference back in January, he led with “Hey Chicago what do you say? The Cubs are going to win today.” He has taken every opportunity to make clear how much he loves Chicago and what it means to be a Chicago Cub, and the fans love it.

And then there’s his pitching. While many viewed left-hander Justin Steele to be the ace of the staff in 2024, it’s Imanaga who has perched himself atop the rotation. As his ERA keeps going down with each start, his legend continues to grow on the north side. It’s hard not to root for a guy like Imanaga.

Main Photo Credits: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports


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