Chunichi's season has come to a close. The club finished off the season on a six-game losing streak, falling far behind the 5th-place Tigers. The Dragons had hopes for a better outcome, at the All-Star break they were in 4th place, only a game out of playoff position. Things went horribly wrong from that point on. There was a clear lack of depth from the beginning, and we all know that if injuries occurred to some key players it would become very difficult. While the pitching staff remained relatively healthy it was the complete opposite for the position players. Of the position players on the team that I consider key, Yohei Oshima was the only one who didn't miss significant time over the course of the season. Hirata battled injuries all season and Viciedo, Nanita and Takahashi missed a lot of time. Good teams can overcome that, but the Dragons just aren't that good, there was no one on the roster to replace those guys and the lineups they were running out over the last month or so of the season were just atrocious.
Looking ahead to next year, things don't look all that bright. The team just announced that Mori will be back for next season as manager. I'm not on board with this at all. I felt that it was time to turn the page to Ogasawara or someone else. Obviously it's a rebuild, but let the team build with what is hopefully it's future manager. I just don't understand the point of having Mori as the manager.
Despite the gloom of a last place finish, there were some bright spots for the team this year:
Shinji Tajima: Tajima took over the reigns of the closer position that it seemed no one wanted. He had an outstanding season though he faltered some near the end, at that point it hardly mattered. I have to assume he's cemented his role as the closer to start next year.
Shota Sugiyama: Sugiyama took over the duties of the every-day catcher for the team and had very solid season with a .260/.340/.357 slash line and good work behind the plate. He shows promise, much more so that than Chunichi's catching prospects of the last few years.
Dayan Viciedo: He started out on a tear and came back down to earth as the season progressed. Still he put up good numbers and has interest in coming back next year, so I'll call that a good thing.
Kazuki Yoshimi: It was just good to see him put in a full season. He looks a lot older out there than he did pre-injury, but he did some good work this year. Hopefully we can count on him next year.
Ryosuke Oguma: Oguma really did well with his opportunities, he ended up with the best record of Chunichi's starting pitchers with five wins and two losses and a 2.80 ERA. Hopefully he's not just the lastest of Chunichi's young pitchers to put up a good year only to suck the next.
Shinnosuke Ogasawara: Though his record didn't show it (which means next to nothing anyways) he pitched pitched well enough in his rookie season to give Dragons' fans hope. He finished the season with a 3.36 ERA over 72-1/3 innings.
Overall, pitching wasn't really a problem for the team. They will have to find a way to score more runs next year if they want to stay out of the cellar in 2017.