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NPB Rants and Rumblings for September 13th, 2009

by on Sep.13, 2009 @ 6:03 am, under NPB

The Swallows were beaten by the Dragons on Saturday and yet managed to hold on to third place because the Bay Stars managed to knock off the Tigers behind Stephen Randolph.  If the Swallows managed to hold on to third place, they might wanna consider buying Randolph a nice steak dinner.  And if the Bay Stars manage to win against on Sunday...  How about drinks all around when they visit Yokohama next week for a 3-games series beginning on 15th?

For those wondering:

The top two hitters combined to go 1-for-9
Norichika Aoki went 2-for-3
The 4-5-6 batters (Jamie D'Antona, Aaron Guiel, and Shinya Miyamoto) combined to go 3-for-11 with 2 RBIs

Here's a quick look at the remaining games in the Central League:

vs Giants vs Dragons vs Swallows vs Tigers vs Carp vs Bay Stars
Giants 6 (12-6-0) 5 (14-4-1) 3 (10-9-2) 5 (9-6-3) 1 (18-5-0)
Dragons 6 (6-12-0) 1 (10-12-0) 4 (13-7-0) 3 (14-7-0) 4 (16-4-0)
Swallows 5 (4-14-1) 1 (12-10-0) 6 (11-7-0) 4 (10-10-0) 8 (4-12-0)
Tigers 3 (9-10-2) 4 (7-13-0) 6 (7-11-0) 4 (11-9-0) 4 (13-7-0)
Carp 5 (6-9-3) 3 (7-14-0) 4 (10-10-0) 4 (9-11-0) 5 (9-10-0)
Bay Stars 1 (5-18-0) 4 (4-16-0) 8 (12-4-0) 4 (7-13-0) 5 (10-9-0)

Based on the Bay Stars season record (44-78-0) you'd think the Swallows would be happy to face them 8 more times, but with a 4-12 record against them...  Not a good sign for the Swallows.

I have a sinking feeling the Swallows are keep spiraling out of control.  And if / when the Tigers get both Kodai Sakurai and Craig Brazell back, I might have to give them the edge over the Swallows.  I'm still not quite sure what to think of the Carp, but they certainly do have the pieces to make it a very tight race for third.

In the Pacific League, Yu Darvish finally returns to the Fighters.  He'll be making his first start since returning from a tired right shoulder.  And his return couldn't come at a better time: the Fighters are 0-5 since taking Darvish off the active roster and just 9-15 since Darvish last won a game on 8/14.

While Darvish return alone won't be reason enough to turn around a 9-15 streak, his presence on the mound every 5-6 days should provide the club with a little more consistency and stability.

Over the current 6-game losing streak, the Fighters have been outscore 28-15 (including a shut-out).  Some key players stats over the Fighters current 6-game losing streak:

#3, Atsunori Inaba - 6-for-17 (.353), 4 R, 0 RBI, 2 xbh
#5, Terrmel Sledge - 6-for-19 (.316), 0 R, 6 RBI, 1 xbh

#1, Kensuke Tanaka - 6-for-23 (.261), 2 R, 1 RBI, 0 xbh

#2, Yoshio Itoi - 3-for-21 (.143), 2 R, 1 RBI, 0 xbh
#4, Shinji Takahashi - 4-for-22 (.182), 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 xbh
#6, Eiichi Koyano - 4-for-21 (.190), 2 R, 0 RBI, 1 xbh
#9, Makoto Kaneko - 1-for-17 (.059), 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 xbh

This is a fairly big departure for a team that leads the NPB in batting average and runs scored and the PL in slugging percentage and OPS.

And the games they have lost during this 6-game losing streak haven't exactly been lost due to big leads: three were 1-run games, one was a 2-run game, and a fifth was a 3-run game.  In addition, the Fighters lost 3 games where they actually held the lead at one point or another.

But the Fighters aren't exactly in dangerous waters at this point.  They still have a 2.5 game lead over the Hawks and a 5.5 game lead over the Eagles.

And the most interesting story out of the Pacific League isn't the Fighters, it's the Eagles.

For the first time in team history, the Eagles have a magic number.  It's 19 and it probably won't hang around for very long, but it's quite an accomplishment.  And with the Lions losing on Saturday, the Eagles now have a 4 game lead over Seibu.  The Eagles are playing with a lot of fight right now.  And not every game they've won over the last couple of weeks has been pretty, but they're getting the job done.

But there is one glaring problem with the team that could end up killing it's chances for a Climax Series berth: the bullpen.

The Eagles have won 6 games in a row, BUT the bullpen has been a mess.

Starters 6 5-0 0 38.2 36 24 15 0 8.4 5.6 3.5 3.03
Relievers 6 1-0 4 15.1 16 9 9 1 9.4 5.3 5.3 5.28

Those aren't very promising numbers for the bullpen.

And the worst of them all has been Kazuo Fukumori:

Fukumori, Kazuo 5 1-0 1 3.2 8 1 5 0 19.6 2.5 12.3 9.81

Ironically, Fukumori was the most consistent part of the bullpen just a little while back.  In fact, Fukumori ended the month of August with a 0.93 ERA and has seen that rise to 1.93.  Perhaps not especially difficult considering he only has 32.2 innings of work under his belt, but that does beg the question, has something changed?

The Eagles actually didn't use Fukumori for 7 days (between 8/26 and 9/5) and have now used him in 4 of the last 7 days since then.  Could it be fatigue?  Did the league figure him out?  Is it a hidden injury?  Or maybe he's just going through a bad stretch.  Regardless, they Eagles need some stability out of the pen and unless they can find someone to step and take that role, they aren't going to get very far.

Here's a quick look at the remaining games in the Pacific League:

vs Fighters vs Hawks vs Eagles vs Lions vs Marines vs Buffaloes
Fighters 4 (9-11-0) 3 (10-10-0) 4 (10-8-0) 2 (16-6-0) 6 (12-5-0)
Hawks 4 (11-9-0) 5 (8-11-0) 3 (11-8-2) 3 (9-11-1) 3 (10-10-0)
Eagles 3 (10-10-0) 5 (11-8-0) 5 (9-10-0) 3 (9-10-0) 4 (15-3-1)
Lions 4 (8-10-0) 3 (8-11-2) 5 (10-9-0) 6 (8-10-0) 1 (14-9-0)
Marines 2 (6-16-0) 3 (11-9-1) 3 (10-9-0) 6 (10-8-0) 3 (7-14-0)
Buffaloes 6 (5-12-0) 3 (10-10-0) 4 (3-15-1) 1 (9-14-0) 3 (14-7-0)

* the schedules only include make-up game information that has been made public up to 9/13.

One comment on “NPB Rants and Rumblings for September 13th, 2009

  1. Bill

    You nailed it on the Eagles, they are suffering bullpen blues in September. Bad time, now that they are in the driver’s seat for third place. See the game yesterday? Koyama saved their skins. He’s been the forgotten man in the ‘pen, with Fukumori and Kawagishi both having a great stretch for August, but both now falling short. Maybe Koyama can be ‘the man’ for this last month.

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