If the First Stage of the Climax Series requires a game 3, Sanspo feels the Tigers might counter with Takumi Akiyama (with Atsushi Nomi, Yasutomo Kubo starting games 1 and 2, respectively). While Jason Standridge might be the better starter, he also hasn't done well against the Giants this season: 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA (1.62 WHIP) over 4 starts. Akiyama hasn't exactly been lights out against the Giants either, but it seems the Tigers might be more comfortable with him: 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA (1.50 WHIP) over 2 starts. And not that the Tigers are looking past the First Stage, but Standridge has much better numbers against the Chunichi Dragons (2-1 with a 2.35 ERA (1.09 WHIP) over 3 starts and 2 relief appearances.
Daily Sports seems to think otherwise and mentions the trio of Nomi, Kubo, and Standridge for the First Stage and includes Akiyama and Randy Messenger as fourth and fifth starters that could pitch in the Final Stage.
Nikkan Sports thinks Akiyama is more likely to pitch in the Final Stage: if the Tigers make it past the Giants, 2-1, Akiyama could start game 1; if the Tigers sweep the Giants, 2-0, Akiyama could start the 4th game.
In other team news:
Ken Nishimura may still have a shot at making the roster for the First Stage of the Climax Series. Nishimura struggled in September (6 G, 0-1, 6.2 IP, 13 H, 1 HR, 5 SO, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 7 R, 7 ER) and was demoted to Ni-gun on 9/26.
Playing the First Stage of the Climax Series not only provides the Hanshin Tigers with home field advantage, but it also means they'll be able to reap the financial benefits of having the games played at Koshien Stadium (like their sponsorship deal with Dandy House). Sanspo puts the financial estimate at close to 1B yen (1 game = about 150M in ticket and merchandise sales + about 150M in broadcast rights) if the series goes to three games. Nikkan Sports reports an estimate of at least 700M yen (1 game = about 138M in ticket sales + about about 160M in broadcast rights + whatever else) for a three game series. In either case, the Tigers stand to pull in quite a bit.
The Tigers sent 7 players, including Kodai Sakurai, Katsuhiko Saka, and Shunsuke Fujikawa, to Miyazaki for the Phoenix League on Friday. With the Phoenix League game on Saturday getting rained out, they all took part in practice sessions held at the indoor training facilities at Ikime Sports Park.
Matt Murton told reporters that he's slowly making preparations to return to the US, but ultimately hopes that he doesn't have to return until November (since that would mean the Tigers made it to the Nippon Series).