Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dragons Now Resembling a Last Place Team

Chunichi's current poor stretch is pushing them out of the CL race, what was only a few game gap between them and playoff position has now stretched to 7.5 games as the Dragons have lost their last six games.  A freefalling BayStars team may be the only thing that prevents the Dragons from their first last-place finish in a long time.

The season started promisingly as the Dragons remained in the top three for a good portion of the first half of the year.  But with all of the CL teams bunched together so tightly it didn't take much of a stumble for Chunichi to fall to sixth.  Pitching has been their main problem, the offence has been surprisingly good with even some sizable contributions from younger players.  Early in the season the bullpen was the main culprit, costing the Dragons several games that they should have had in hand.  Since then the starting pitching has faltered as well.  Ohno has been steady, but the rest of the rotation has been uneven to bad since the start of interleague play.  Again Yoshimi, who was excellent when available, has been out for a while.  They should probably keep him on the shelf for the rest of the year at this point anyway. 

Honestly, I've been surprised by the performance of the bullpen this year.  I expected some potential shakiness out of rotation, there was uncertainty there, but I was hopeful.  The Chunichi bullpen now has 22 losses, games when the Dragons had the lead and lost it in the late innings.  That's the most in the Central, DeNA is the next highest with 17, Yakult only has 5.  Closing has also been an issue for the Dragons, long-time closer Hitoki Iwase who is still on the roster hasn't pitched this year at ichi-gun or ni-gun.  Koji Fukutani has been chosen to be the next closer and was solid early in the season, but has had some difficulties since.  Still he has been one of the better arms in the pen and may turn out to be great closer, but he's not there yet.  Takuya Asao appears to no longer be a closing option as it sounds that we will potentially transition into being a starter.

So Dragons' fans, it doesn't look good right now, but if the Dragons do turn things around it will have to start with the pitching.  They've just signed two foreign pitchers, Rafeal Perez and Drew Naylor, hopefully they will help, either way it's nice to see the front office at least making an attempt to improve the team's fortunes midseason.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

30-Minute Version of the 30-day NPB Challenge

It's been a while since I've posted anything, it was a very busy spring.  The season is about half over already and the Dragons are still hanging around, though currently in last place, they are only a few games out of playoff position.  It's been an interesting season so far with a lot of new faces.  I'm planning to do a recap at the All-Star break. 

In the meantime I noticed that Deanna at Marinerds, etc. has been participating in a 30-day twitter challenge that was originally posted by a Tigers fan.  It seemed like a fun idea and a good way to break my streak of not posting.  I don't use twitter so I will post my responses here.

1: The first NPB game you watched:
    On video: Game 1 of the 2006 Japan Series: Chunichi vs. Nippon Ham
    In person: Chunichi vs. Hanshin at Nagoya Dome in 2007
2. Your all-time favorite NPB player:
    Toyohashi's own Atsushi Fujii of the Dragons
3. Favorite CL team:  Dragons without a doubt
4. Favorite PL team:  Rakuten Eagles
5. The moment you became the fan of a player:
    Masa Yamamoto the first time I saw him wind up
6. Favorite pitcher
     Kenshin Kawakami
7. A batter you'd put all your bets in:
     Kazuhiro Wada, at least a few years ago
8. A fielder you enjoy watching:
     Kenta Imamiya, I enjoyed Hiro Ibata during his time with the Dragons as well, he seemed   to always do everything right.  I don't see the Hawks play often, but Imamiya has blown my mind a few times.
9. A player you think is the most difficult to play against:
     I can't imagine what it would be like to face Yu Darvish
10. Favorite battery:
     Masa Yamamoto and Motonobu Tanishige, an amazing amount of experience between those two
11. A reliever/closer who gives you shivers when he takes the mound:
     Scott Mathieson of Yomiuri, some good old country hardball, he seems to blow the Dragons away every time
12. A pitchers duel you enjoyed or think you would enjoy:
   I have to agree with Deanna on Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series, Fighters' Darvish vs. Dragons'   Yamai/Iwase perfect game.  Hands down my favorite NPB game ever.
13. Most impressive moment in an NPB game:
   See No. 12, when Iwase finished off the perfect game and championship season all in one.
   Another favorite moment was last year when Atsushi Fujii hit a game-ending extra-inning home run in  Toyohashi.
14. Most disappointing moment in NPB game:
   Sayonara loss in game 5 of the 2012 Climax Series, Chunichi vs. Yomiuri, when it became apparent that the Dragons were not going to pull off a major upset in that series.
15. Funniest scene in an NPB game:
   At a game I was at in 2011 pitcher Soma Yamauchi hit a ball that bounced several feet in front of   the plate off the bounce into right field for an RBI hit.
16. Favorite team anthem:  Moeyo Dragons obviously
17. Favorite team logo:  BayStars before they got DeNAed
18. Favorite mascot: 
      Doala, I know there is some hate out there, but it's amazing he's ever able to land a twisting backflip with that giant head on.
19. Favorite uniform:  Rakuten's 2012 Eagle Star pinstripes, Favorite Cap: BayStars '90s-era
20. Favorite stadium or dome:
     I've only been to Nagoya Dome, Koshien and the stripped-down Nagoya Baseball Stadium.
     Koshien was special.
21. Coolest chance theme:
     Probably sacrilegious, but I'm not really that into the organized cheering, not exactly sure what this means.
22. Favorite cheering song:
     Seems like the one for Tae-Kyun Kim was catchy, from a non-expert I think the Marines ones are often good.
23. Manager you trust the most:  Hiromitsu Ochiai
24. A coach you wish was yours:  I have a good impression of Koji Akiyama
25. A young player you have expectations on:  Shuhei Takahashi
26. Favorite farm player who you hope makes it to the first team:  Chunichi has given almost everyone a try already, I hope one of the young catchers will run with the starting job
27. A player you wish was on your favorite team:  Shohei Otani, such an amazing talent
28. Favorite rivalry between two NPB players:  I don't have an answer for that one
29. A player you wish he was your friend that you'd be proud to show around:
     Shohei Otani:  Can I be his agent? Can he come play for my Mens' League Baseball team?
30. Your dream team:  I need more time to consider that one