ARLINGTON -- There is no secret the Rangers will be interested in Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani if he is posted as expected by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters this offseason.But Ohtani is hardly the only pitcher from Japan who will be on the Rangers' list. Another intriguing option is right-hander Miles
ARLINGTON -- There is no secret the Rangers will be interested in Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani if he is posted as expected by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters this offseason.
But Ohtani is hardly the only pitcher from Japan who will be on the Rangers' list. Another intriguing option is right-hander Miles Mikolas, one of 40 pitchers used by the Rangers in their 95-loss 2014 season.
Mikolas spent the past three seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and is now a free agent. There are reports that he would like another shot in the Major Leagues, and the Rangers are on record in saying they will look at all options when pursuing pitching this winter.
They also have had significant success in acquiring pitchers from the Japan, most notably Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis and Tony Barnette. Mikolas has many similarities to Lewis, one of the best signings by the Rangers during general manager Jon Daniels' tenure.
Mikolas had limited success in parts of three seasons with the Padres and Rangers in 2012-14. He was 2-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts for Texas in 2014, although he threw eight shutout innings in his final start against the Mariners.
Mikolas then went to Japan and has spent the past three seasons pitching for the Giants. In 62 starts, he has gone 31-13 with a 2.18 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. This past season, he was 14-8 with a 2.25 ERA while striking out 187 and walking 23 in 188 innings.
According to one scouting report, Mikolas throws 92-93 mph with a good curve, cutter and slider. He also throws strikes with few walks, which is high on the list of the Rangers' pitching priorities.
Lewis also revived his career in Japan after coming to a dead end in the United States, spending two seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. His final season with Hiroshima was similar to Mikolas' numbers with the Giants this year. Lewis pitched in 29 games in 2009, going 11-9 with a 2.96 ERA. In 176 innings, he struck out 186 and walked 19. The Rangers signed him to a two-year deal and he stayed for six as a part of four division champions and two World Series teams.
The Rangers' success with Lewis also alerted the rest of baseball about paying closer attention to Japan. Mikolas is unlikely to fly under the radar if he does elect to return to the United States.
But in a free agent market thin in starting pitcher, Mikolas will present another attractive option for a team in dire need of starting pitching.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.