Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dragons Hanging Tough

Chunichi's big win last night clinches at least a series win against the Giants at Tokyo Dome, always sweet! The win was highlighted by Dayan Viciedo's 2 home runs in one inning, per YakyuDB, he's only the second Dragon to do that. 

The Dragons currently are tied for third, but only one game out of first place.  So far, outside of their struggles against the Carp, Chunichi has played very solid ball.  I feel though that they may be at a bit of a crossroads.  Going into the season I saw depth as a major concern for this team.  Injuries are starting to pile up already, but to this point they have weathered some key ones.  Of the best players on this team: Yoshimi, Ohno, Hirata, Viciedo, Takahashi, Oshima and Nanita, over half have already been affected by injury.  Ohno and Takahashi will be out for a while, Hirata is back now and Yoshimi is being treated very delicately (for good reason).  Not to mention Issei Endo, who was supposed to be a contributor on this team, but struggled out of the gate and then got banged up.  He's now back playing with the ni-gun team.  The good news is that Chunichi hasn't lost anyone for the season, the question is can they keep things going in the right direction until they get guys back. 

I think they can, but we will have to see if they will.  Since rejoining the team Hirata has been red-hot, that has covered the loss of Takahashi so far, who was off to a very promising start to the season.  Hirata along with Viciedo and Nanita , who have been mashing to say the least, will have to stay health and productive to power the offense.  The back end of the bullpen, last year's Achilles heal, has been good, especially Fukutani and Tajima.  They need to keep that going and hopefully get a bit of improvement from some of the middle relievers.  The starters just need to tread water for the most part, a good bullpen can make up for a lack of depth there, plus they may have found something special with Jordan Norberto.

We will see, but interleague play may prove to be a blessing as well.  If the Pacific League dominates again, the Central League teams will likely stay packed together like last year.  If they can hang in it until late-summer, then anything can happen down the stretch.  This is a team that was pegged for last by a lot of the media, but thus far they are looking improved. I'm hoping for a competitive season and really hope they will still be relevant this summer when I will be going to Japan.  Maybe the re-build will be short lived, I do see a young core coming together. Let get fired up for 2016 and beyond Dragons' fans!

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