Junichi Tazawa struggled in a major way last season, putting up a 5.69 ERA in 55.1 innings and falling below replacement level (according to fWAR) for the first time since his rookie season back in 2009. His 9.2 percent walk rate was the worst of his career and marked the first time he fell below average in that statistic. His 16 percent strikeout rate was well below average and was by far his worst mark since his rookie season. Combine that with a poor groundball rate (35.6 percent), and things do not look promising for the 31-year-old reliever; declining skills for a player on the wrong side of 30 is never a good sign. Tazawa turned in four straight seasons with a FIP under 3.25 from 2012-15, but that's a long time ago in Major League Baseball. If he remains with the Marlins in 2018, Tazawa is likely to serve as part of the bridge to the ninth inning.
Tazawa has earned a 5.12 ERA across 51 innings pitched with the Marlins this season. In his first year with Miami, Tazawa's ERA has increased by over one point since 2016 -- from 4.17 to 5.22. The right-hander has struggled with a rib injury throughout the season, which could be a contributing factor to his down year. However, he's pitched well of late, allowing just one run in his last eight innings out of the bullpen, and could see some high-leverage innings down the stretch.
Tazawa has eight strikeouts and has allowed four runs over nine innings since coming off the disabled list June 22. Now in his first season with Miami, the former Boston reliever has 19 total strikeouts as he's had to battle a rib injury for much of the season. Due to the injury, the Japanese native hasn't seen as much late-inning work as he'd become accustomed to in the past. Given the improved play of Kyle Barraclough, the current arrangement in Miami's bullpen might not be changing any time soon, so fantasy owners shouldn't expect Tazawa's role to improve.
Tazawa (ribs) was activated from the disabled list Thursday, Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald reports. Tazawa, who has been sidelined since mid-May with a rib cartilage injury, is ready to rejoin the big-league bullpen after making five rehab appearances between Triple-A New Orleans, Double-A Jacksonville and High-A Jupiter. The 31-year-old compiled a 6.60 ERA and 11:8 K:BB through 15 innings before landing on the disabled list. Brad Zeigler was placed on the 10-day DL in a corresponding roster move.
Tazawa (ribs) tossed a perfect inning and struck out two batters Sunday during a rehab appearance with Double-A Jacksonville. After opening his rehab assignment June 9 with High-A Jupiter, Tazawa has made his subsequent three appearances with Jacksonville, with Sunday's outing marking his strongest one to date. Though the Marlins haven't outlined a return date for Tazawa, the right-hander seems likely to come off the disabled list at some point during the upcoming week.
Tazawa (ribs) tossed a pair of shutout innings with two strikeouts at High-A Jupiter on Friday, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports. Tazawa has been out with a rib cartilage issue since May 17. He owned a 6.60 ERA over 15 innings before the injury, although it should be noted he served up a grand slam in the outing in which he went down. The Marlins could opt to have Tazawa make a couple more rehab outings, but a return to the majors this weekend is a possibility.