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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Dragons Den: News around the Dome; Ono the unbendable (1/9/2020)


Thanks to all of those that provided feedback for in the form from the last post. I have a better idea of what you want to see from me. For the time being, I'll try to at least put up some team news once a week based on what I've scoured over from the local sports rags and any other information I can dig up. So with that, it's time for another edition of Dragons Den. 

  • Yudai Ono has pitched his 5th consecutive complete game thus equaling the
    Dragons record alongside Mitsuru Sato, Hiroshi Gondo and Katsuhiko Ishikawa. Quite a feat given it hasn't happened in 14 years and the you have look back almost 50 years to see when it last happened. If it weren't for a certain Giants right-hander, Ono would be the front-runner for the Sawamura Award nomination.
Perhaps the scary thing for Dragons fans is that amidst the best season of his career, Ono will become a domestic free agent at the end of it. A big club might come calling and it's going to take a sizeable offer to keep him in Nagoya given the class he's exuding. Add to the fact that he's a childhood fan of the Tigers who also happen to have deep pockets....
  • Katsuki Matayoshi has returned to the top team for the first time in 2 months after having 6 scoreless outing on the farm. Matayoshi was looking sharp in pre-season but hadn't yet found his way into Tsuyoshi Yoda's plans. He's hoping this is his chance to stay with the top team for the rest of the year. 
  • Ryosuke Hirata is one away from his 1000th professional hit after his single against the Carp in the 8th inning on Tuesday. Hirata has returned to the first-team for the most part after a lengthy absence where Masataka Iryo was most prevalent filling-in in right-field.
  • Ariel Martinez is back to about 90% of his powers following his left hand injury. He had a live batting practice against Hiroaki Matsuda on Tuesday marking the first time facing up against a pitcher since his injury. 
  • Akiyoshi Katsuno was brought up for the game on Sunday against the Giants and after a woeful first inning, looked to bring things back together with a well pitched 6-inning outing. Perhaps not what he had hoped after 22 days away from the top team, but he showed that he can re-focus on the mound. Katsuno was perhaps a bit unlucky with rookie catcher, Yuya Gunji dropping a few pitches while the Giants somehow hit some bullets within the diamond dimensions to advance runners. Hopefully a performance that will inspire confidence later on. Katsuno was de-registered on Monday.
  • Hiroto Fuku had a 0.00 ERA through August! the lefty reliever has gone from strength to strength after his breakout season last year. He pitched 8 games without a run earned in August with a 2-0 record and 3 holds.
  • In case you were wondering where Kodai Umetsu is (I was!), he has been working out on the farm after some discomfort in his right elbow which led to his deactivation at the start of August. On Saturday, he was said to be "throwing at 80%" strength claiming that his "elbow was fine now". He threw 30 pitches to a standing catcher. He has a 2-3 record with a 3.74 ERA this season after opening the year in the starting rotation.
  • In other injury news, Kenshin Kakikoshi, Ryushin Takeuchi and Hiroaki Matsuda all returned from various injuries to start their rehabilitation programs.
  • More on the farm, and on Saturday, Masami Ishigaki had a multi-hit game including his 3rd homer of the the Western League season to maintain his pedestal of average leader. He's hitting .373 over 33 games with a .952 OPS. A first team call surely can't be too far away. 2019 top draft pick, Takaya Ishikawa sits in 5th with a .272 average and a .738 OPS. 
  • In case you hadn't heard, the Dragons have applied successfully for rookie status for Yariel Rodriguez and Ariel Martinez. Rodriguez last outing against the Giants may well turn the press against him for ROTY honours, but should either win the award, they'd be the first foreign player to do it. As neither have played in MLB or MiLB, the argument goes that they're eligible for the award at the end of the year.
  • On Tuesdays game, Yoda was effusive in his praise for his hitters getting a 3-run cushion in the 8th inning despite 2 outs on the board saying that the his hitters ability to identify the pitches coming in was key to victory. Shuhei and Abe put the runs on the board. 
  • In news that surprises no-one, despite their 4th placing, the Dragons have the fewest homeruns in NPB, sticking with modern trends, with 34. The Pacific League basement dwelling Buffaloes are the next worst at 42.
Team ERA however is 4th in the NPB indicating the pitching is apparently doing something right.

  • On the individual leaderboard side of things, Shuhei Takahashi is 5th in the Central League in average while Dayan Viciedo trails RBI leader, the Giants' Kazuma Okamoto by 3. Yudai Ono meanwhile is 3rd in ERA and 2nd in WHIP while leading the Central League in strikeouts and strikeout percentage (9.37) Ono's FIP ranks a bit higher than Tomoyuki Sugano, but it's Sugano's 5 point run support average to Ono's 3 points that might be the decider in who gets the glory in the end of season awards.