It's about official now that Kaz Yoshimi will need reconstructive elbow surgery which will likely require a year or more of rehabilitation. The news was posted today on yakyubaka and newspaper reports state that the surgery will occur early next month. Many pitchers these days return from elbow surgery as strong or stronger than before the injury so Yoshimi, at 28 years old, should have many more seasons left in his arm should his recovery go as expected.
The loss of Yoshimi for the season is a major blow to Chunichi's chances of being a serious contender in the Central. The Dragons still have a good chance to make a run at a playoff spot and still have a capable pitching staff, but Yoshimi is a on a different level than the rest of Chunichi's staff. When healthy I'd put him up there with any pitcher in Japan, maybe not stuff-wise but with his ability to get outs and in big situations. That's something that Chunichi can't live without should they be fortunate enough to make the playoffs.
So far this season Chunichi's pitching hasn't been on par with what its been the last several years. The bullpen in particular has struggled, but the coaches have juggled things and come up with some, at least short-term, fixes. One of those moves has been moving Kenichi Nakata to the bullpen where he's a done a solid job. Nakata's move to the pen though thins Chunichi's starting pitching options even further. They'll now be missing Yoshimi and have been missing Kenshin Kawakami who's been MIA all season, I assume due to injury, but I haven't seen any details why. That leaves Soma Yamauchi, Yudai Ohno, Bradley Bergesen, Daniel Cabrera, and Shinji Iwata as the other main starters. Yamamoto, Asakura and others will likely fill in the last spot. As far as those first five guys go, they've all had some success now in the NPB, but also had some ups and downs. Hopefully it will be mostly ups as the season continues, because it will be up to them to keep Chunichi's postseason streak going. I think they can do it, the bullpen may be a different story though, but of course it all would have looked so much more promising with Kaz Yoshimi as the team's number one.