NPB Career Stats:
Luis Mendoza was picked up by the Boston Red Sox while he was still 17 years old. It took several years for him to be promoted out of Class A ball, though. From there, it took until 2007 for him to have his first truly successful season at Double A, and that was with the Texas Rangers organization. He even made his big-league debut late in the season, but took a line drive off the knee in the second inning, which cut his start short.
Mendoza bounced between teams and spent much of the next four years in the minors, throwing two no-hitters in the process. He pitched a career high 166 innings with the Kansas City Royals in 2012, winning 8 games. After representing Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, he got a decent number of starts in early 2013, but was placed on waivers at the end of the season so that the Nippon Ham Fighters could acquire his services.
Mendoza’s NPB career started off on the right foot, as he won his debut on April 1, 2014 against the SoftBank Hawks, allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings. He threw his first complete game later in the season against those same Hawks. The next season, he recorded a career-best 10 wins, and even picked up his first ever hold. He signed a new contract with the team that offseason despite being scouted by MLB teams.
The 2016 season saw Mendoza contribute 7 wins to the Fighters’ incredible come-from-behind pennant win, and he played a key role in the Nippon Series against the Hiroshima Carp as well. With the series tied at 2 and his team’s back against the wall in Game 5 (bases loaded 1 out in the second inning), he entered the game in relief and pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball. The Fighters would go on to win the game and take Game 6 as well, completing the series win.
After representing Mexico once again in the WBC in 2017 (and picking up the team’s lone win in the tournament), Mendoza found a spot in the Fighters’ rotation until midseason, when the team (which eventually stumbled its way to a fifth place finish) chose to cut him loose and start the rebuilding process midseason. The Tigers, who had lost Randy Messenger to a broken fibula bone, immediately picked him up off the waiver wire.
On August 30, the Hanshin Tigers acquired the services of Mendoza via waivers. He would wear number 75. He made his debut on September 3 against the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien. The team had been riding a 5-game winning streak, and while Mendoza pitched well through six innings (two runs on just 5 hits), he gave up a crucial hit and walk, and then saw the Dragons’ lead increase as his fielders made throwing and decision mistakes.
His next start came against the Yokohama DeNA BayStars on September 10. He threw five innings of 3-run ball, and although he left the game with a lead and a chance at a win in pinstripes, the bullpen gave up runs in consecutive innings. Fortunately, the team went on to win on a Hayata Itoh walkoff single to the right field corner.
He would also be named starter of the game in which the Hiroshima Carp clinched the Central League pennant at Koshien (September 18), though he did not factor into the decision. After a brief stint on the farm, he returned for a final start on September 29 against the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, though it did not go well. His four runs in four innings made him the losing pitcher in what would be his final start as an NPB pitcher.
Even if his mediocrity had not done him in, Messenger’s successful return to the mound on October 10 was enough. With import limitations in effect, the team no longer had space on the top squad roster for Mendoza. He returned to Mexico the day after the Tigers were ousted from the playoffs, and was left off the team’s protected list on November 30th. On December 2, the team made it official that he had been released.
Mendoza Press Conference (September 1, 2017)
Tigers Claim Mendoza Off Waivers (August 31, 2017)