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Friday, March 25, 2016

Starting Day: Possible Line-Up Against Hanshin Tigers 3/25

What's the first day of the season without some mindless speculating! Not the first day of the season, I'll tell you that!

So far the only thing we know for certain is that Yudai Ohno will be starting pitcher. We've known that since last year. Tanishige earmarked him for starting day duties probably from even before the draft last year, so we've not been nervously awaiting that announcement. Then again, there's really no-one more suitable.  We even know what Ohno's going to do first ball. He's announced to the world that he's sending a straight one out at Takayama. I kind of want him to through a change-up just to mess with them, but as much of a character as Ohno is, I don't think the plan will change.

What we can also deduce from the roster is that Shuhei Takahashi will be playing 3rd base. Donoue is the only other bloke who's been selected who can play there, but he's more of a 2nd/SS utility guy. 1st base as well will likely be reserved for Dayan Viciedo who played all of his outfield appearances bar one at 1st. He otherwise DH'd and played in the outfield on one occasion. Apparently his first outing on base was quote "terrible" and attracted more than a fair share of laughs from the senior staff, but he's obviously improved from there and looks set to make the position his own with Nobumasa Fukuda and Masahiko Morino failing to impress in pre-season.

Outfield seems like it won't change much from last season with Atsushi Fujii in the left, repeat golden glove winner, Yohei Oshima in the middle and captain Hirata on the right.

The main question will be what happens in the middle of the infield with battles between Anderson Hernandez and Issei Endo playing out for short-stop and veteran Masahiro Araki vying with Kyohei Kamezawa for the position at second.

Catcher as well will be a contest between Iori Katsura and Shota Sugiyama. Both will probably see a lot of game time this year in any case. Takeyama I expect to be nothing else but back-up.

Here's my predicted line-up:

8 Oshima
2 Araki
23 Endo
66 Viciedo
6 Hirata
4 Fujii
6 Takahashi
40 Katsura
22 Ohno

I'm basing this mainly on previous season and some of the pre-season games. Endo performed well at 3 in pre-season getting a few RBIs and otherwise being useful. Hirata might be an option there as well, but I think you need him to add to the clean-up. Araki gets the nod as well from me for experience and quality. He's a better fielder than Kamezawa as well. Katsura and Sugiyama is really a 50/50 for me, but Katsura I feel is better defensively and will hopefully counteract what can sometimes be an erratic Ohno.

Let's see what happens though. This will be a fantastic bang to the season and the Dragons boys will be looking to better their 3 losses in the same fixtures last year. First up Randy Messenger will be a tough ask, but I have hope that the quality is there to pull us through.

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