After what looked like something to be optimistic for the 2016 season, the Saitama Seibu Lions announced a change. Shortly before the first 2016 NPB All Star game, they announced they released Andy Van Hekken and placed him on waivers, terminating his one-year deal.
Van Hekken, who will turn 37 at the end of this month, was nothing short of a disaster for the Lions for his time in Japan. The Lions purchased his contract from the Nexen Heroes of KBO last winter hoping to solve a rotation spot, but in the end, it was just another hole.
In 10 starts, Van Hekken would have only one outing last longer than five innings which was a start on April 3. In 45.2 innings, Van Hekken would have an ERA of 6.31, 35 strikouts, 26 walks and allowed 3 home runs.
His success of four years being in the KBO just couldn't transition in Japan, as he drew some early whiffs, but the lack of velocity ended up biting them and he wouldn't get outs unless the ball was in play. He was the second highest paid pitcher on the team at an estimated ¥144 million yen, only behind ace Takayuki Kishi.
With this release, the Lions now have 69 players on the roster and there would be room for a possible pickup by trade, cash purchase or foreign free agent signing.
The Lions track record has shown they haven't had a decent foreign starting pitcher since Taigen (Kaku) Kuo. They signed Felipe Paulino in the middle of the season with the hopes of him being a stopgap.
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