The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters have re-signed right-hander Drew VerHagen to a new contract, the team announced earlier this week. The 30-year-old will return to Japan for a second season after a successful 2020 campaign.
A veteran of six MLB seasons, VerHagen posted a 5.11 ERA, 2.08 K/BB rate, 53.9% grounder rate, and 7.1 K/9 over 199 innings with the Tigers from 2014-19. As you might expect for a groundball specialist, VerHagen’s performance tended to ebb and flow based on his BABIP, with his three highest single-season ERAs (in 2016, 2017, and 2019) coinciding with his three largest BABIP totals.
With his Major League career not making much progress, VerHagen signed with the Fighters last winter, saying that he was “excited” by the chance to work as a starting pitcher. (He started only eight of his 127 games with Detroit.) VerHagen took advantage of his new opportunity in 2020, posting a 3.22 ERA, 3.97 K/BB rate, and 9.3 K/9 over 111 2/3 innings for the Fighters.