Saturday, May 10, 2014

One Month In

The Dragons currently sit in 4th place after the first five weeks of the season.  At this point the Central League's top three teams are bunched within a few games of each other and bottom three teams are bunched together with about 5 games separating the two groups.  There is still a long way to go though and 5 games doesn't mean much at this point.

So far the offence has been stronger than it's been for several years, but the regulation ball has been traveling well this year and that probably has a lot to do with it.  Still Oshima and even Araki have been doing well at the top of the lineup and Luna and Hirata have hit very well in the 3-4 spots.  Morino and Wada have been contributing, especially of late.  Ogasawara has hit well in his role and Naomichi Donoue and Masato Matsui were hitting well, but have slumped lately.

Both Luna and Wada are near the top of the league with 7 home runs and 27 RBI each, but outside of those two they comparatively haven't hit for a ton of power and currently rank last in the league in home runs and 5th in runs scored. Their runs scored numbers aren't that far from the pack though, only Hanshin and Yakult have scored a lot more runs than Chunichi so far.

Though they rank third in the Central in runs allowed, run prevention seems to be what's holding the Dragons back.  I can't imagine Chunichi hitting much better than they have so far, but I could definitely see some improvement in their pitching and defense.  For the Dragons to be playoff contenders they will have be one of the top pitching staffs, which is what they've been in the past.  So far Daisuke Yamai has been the only consistent starter.  They have gotten some surprise contributions from Kenta Asakura, Yudai Kawai and Tatsuro Hamada, but they will need more consistency from Yudai Ono, Daniel Cabrera and a healthy Kaz Yoshimi for Chunichi to stay in the race.  The bullpen has been pretty good so far, except for a few blowups.  I've been impressed with Daisuke Sobue the few times I've seen him as well as some of the other young bullpen arms.  Outside of Wada in left field there is no reason why the Dragons shouldn't be a solid defensive team, I don't know what their overall defensive numbers are (or any source in English that would show them), but they've definitely had some sorry moments. 

Going forward Chunichi needs to continue hitting at their current level, get some more consistency from their starting pitching and keep looking to improve their foreign players roster, they have three foreign spots that they've gotten almost no production from.  If they can do any of that they can certainly stay in the race for the long run.

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