Welcome to the Monday Review, in which we’ll look back at the week that was and look ahead to the week that will be. We hope a recurring weekly review column will help readers identify some trends that can’t be covered in a single game report. We’re still trying to work out the format, so let us know what you’d like to see in the comments.
The Swallows had a 4 day break after the end of Interleague before they played the BayStars in a 3 game series to open the second third of the season. Many of the trends we saw in Interleague continued as the Swallows went 2-1 against the lowly BayStars. This week’s review will be shorter than usual because we just don’t have a lot to go on.
The Week That Was
Where Art Thou Balentien? Coco Balentien has been noticeably absent over the last little stretch. Balentien’s average finally fell below .300 this week. That being said, there are signs that indicate that he’ll be able to turn things around. Firstly, Balentien is still walking. In the last 6 games, Balentien has drawn 7 walks, including a 3 walk game on Saturday. At the same time, he’s avoided striking out, whiffing only 3 times in that span.
Injury Updates: Whitesell twisted his left ankle and sprained it fielding a bunt on Saturday’s game. He was held out of Sunday’s game, but he hasn’t been taken off the active roster (at least not yet), and he was on the bench for the game, indicating that the team is expecting a relatively short recovery time. We hope to see Josh back in the lineup soon. In happier news, Kawabata made his return to the starting lineup on Friday. Kawabata has not gotten his first hit since his return, but he wasn’t showing any ill effects of the injury on the field.
Random Playing Time: While we sometimes say that players that have been removed from the 28-man active roster as being sent down to ni-gun, it is actually possible for active roster players to play in ni-gun games without being removed from the active roster. With the 4 game break this week, first team players Kosuke Matsui, Koki Watanabe, Fukukawa, Miwa, Miyade, Noguchi, and Yuichi all made appearances in ni-gun games played between Tuesday and Thursday.
Roster Moves: After making his first team debut last week, outfield Jun Matsui was quickly sent back down to ni-gun on Tuesday. Prior to Friday’s game, Kawabata and rookie pitcher Yuki Shichijo were added to the active roster. The team is currently only carrying 27 players out of a possible 28 on the active roster. We expect the a pitcher to be called up to fill that spot sooner rather than later.
All Star Update: The last set of vote tallies prior to the official release of the results on Thursday were made public on Friday. Yoshinori, Hatakeyama, Aoki, and Balentien hold a comfortable number of votes and seem poised to make the All Star roster via the fan vote. Tateyama, Lim, Miyamoto, and possibly Aikawa may make the roster through the player vote or manager’s discretion.
Our Opponents: This week the Swallows will play a full 6 game slate with 3 game series against the Giants and the Carp. The Birds will play their first 2 games against the Giants in Koriyama, Fukushima before playing the last game at the Tokyo Dome. After the Giants, the team will travel to Hiroshima for a more traditional 3 game set. The Giants are coming off a 1-2 set against the Tigers, while the Carp won their last series 2-1 against the Dragons. The probable starters for the Giants are hard to predict, but we’ll probably avoid Utsumi and Sawamura, and see Greisinger in one of the games. For the Carp, it seems likely that we’ll see Bullington, Maeda, and Kishimoto. However, as the Carp will only play 2 games prior to the Swallows they may adjust their rotation accordingly.
Our Rotation: The biggest question Swallows followers have this week, is who will be starting in the Giants series. It seems Shichijo has been penciled in to start the first game, but who will start the next 2 games remains a mystery. If the team intends to go with a 6 man roster they’ll need to get 2 pitchers to fill out the rotation of Tateyama, Ishikawa, Masubuchi, and Shichijo, at least until Muranaka and Yoshinori make their returns. Hitoshi Yamamoto is a likely candidate to start on Wednesday, as he last pitched 6 effective innings on last Wednesday at Toda. Muranaka started and pitched 2 perfect innings in that game getting 3 strikeouts. But it seems likely that the keep will Muranaka in Toda for at least one more week. Another candidate to start is the newly signed Fernandes, although he hasn’t pitched in a game since pitching 7 strong innings (1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) on the 16th. A reliever relay seems unlikely as the team won’t have a rest day after Thursday’s game, but it may be possible depending on how the first games go.