Monday, April 9, 2012
This may be Masa's last season, he's said in the past that he only wants to continue pitching for as long he can be successful. The funny thing is that after coming back from period of injuries in 2009 and early 2010 he has been really good, when available, and I think if they limit his innings he may be able to hold up over the course of the season.
Yamamoto may also have a chance this year to become the oldest pitcher to record a win in NPB history. The current record is set at forty-six years and 8 months, so Masa has a couple months to go before he will be eligible to break it. Though Yamamoto has pitched well in both of his starts this year he has recieved two no-decisions so far. Masa left the game with a 1-0 lead in his first start, but Takuya Asao had a rare blown hold opportunity in the 8th and the game ended in a tie. Chunichi was unable to score while Yamamoto was on the hill on the April 8th, but rallied to tie later in the game, before losing in extra innings.
Whether or not Yamamoto goes on to set any more records he has already left quite a mark on Dragons history. He's been with the team since 1983, when he was a 5th-round draft pick. He's pitched over 150 innings for the team 14 times, has over 200 career wins and is 50 games over .500 in his career. Never the most dominant pitcher, he has always been consistantly solid. From 1989 to 2004 he posted an ERA of over 4.00 only one time. While he's had a hard time staying healthy over the last few years and many others lump him into a group of players who are hanging on too long. I would rather appreciate the few starts he has left, especially as he continues to get guys out. From the classic windup to the history and craftiness he takes with him when he climbs the mound, I definitely still get a lot of enjoyment from him still being on the team.