Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 CL Predictions: Will the Dragons Finish in Last Place?

The 2015 season is off and running, here's how I think the standings will end up:

Yomiuri Giants
Hiroshima Carp
Hanshin Tigers
Chunichi Dragons
Yakult Swallows
Yokohama Baystars

According to some of the articles and message boards I've been seeing, many think this will be a dreary year for the Dragons.  Some are even picking them to finish in last place, something that hasn't happened since 1992  (since 1992 Chunichi has finished lower than 4th only once, which was in 2001).  Somehow I'm not seeing what they're seeing, barring some very serious injuries (something Chunichi's already been dealing with the last two years when they've missed the playoffs, Yoshimi, Asao, etc.) I don't see this year's team being the worst in the Central League.  Sure, they are old and have some holes, but this looks to me like another ho-hum middle-of-the-pack Dragons team.  Certainly they are not the only team with holes.

This year's team likely isn't going to score a ton of runs, but is their lineup much worse or even worse at all than their recent pitching-driven playoff teams?  I don't think so, it includes two all-star quality players in Oshima and Luna, and Hirata is just coming into his prime.  Outside of the catching position, the rest of the lineup was no worse than average last year.  Then we get to the pitching, I like the bullpen, they have some good young arms there.  Starting pitching shouldn't be a problem either, Valdes is looking like he could be a great pick up to go with Yamai and Ono and maybe even Yoshimi at some point, plus plenty of servicable guys in the back end of the rotation.  I'm just not seeing a last-place team here.  There is no doubt that the Dragons lineup needs to get younger for future success, but statistics-wise last year wasn't a bad year for guys like Morino, so why is this the year that everyone goes in the tank? 

Get fired up Dragons fans, it's a new season, we don't have to listen to the haters! ;-)  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dragons' Starting Rotation Announced

Per Nikkan Sports and yakyubaka the following pitchers will make up the Dragons starting rotation to begin the year:

Daisuke Yamai - Coming off the best season of his career, hopefully he can follow it up with another quality season

Raul Valdes - New foreign player, he has been very impressive throughout the preseason.

Kenta Asakura -  Not sure why he was included, he hasn't had a successful season at ichi-gun since 2009

Yudai Ohno - Currently the most promising young starter Chunichi has

Tomoya Yagi - Free agent pickup, most recently with Orix.  He's had a nice preseason and earned his spot.  My wife has been rooting for him since she saw him on the TV show "Senryokugai Tsukoku," He's the father of five children.

Yudai Kawai - Solid last year in 18 starts, should be a good end of the rotation guy

Overall looks to be an improvement over last year.  It seems unlikely that Asakura will remain in the rotation for long.  Tatsura Hamada, Shinji Iwata, Junki Ito or someone else will probably take his spot sooner rather than later.  Former ace, Kazuki Yoshimi, has pitched frequently and fairly well this preseason but is still working his way back from injury.  Hopefully he will return to the rotation at some point this year.