The Monday Review #11

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 come out of their first full week of Central League action with an impressive 3-1-2 record. They pushed their season record to 30-21-7, putting themselves 9 games over .500 for the first time this season. While the team played far from perfect baseball, it’s good to see the team is able to find ways to win (or at least not lose).

The Week That Was

The Offense: The Swallows’ offense finally started to score more consistently last week, as the team managed to score at least 4 runs in all 6 of their games last week. The team scored a total of 29 runs last week. Looking at the numbers of our 8 regular starters, we can neatly divide them between hot and not.

The Hot
The Not

The first number that pops out at you is Hiroyasu’s 10 RBIs last week. It’s not often you see your number 2 hitter be responsible for knocking in over a third of your team’s runs in a week. But looking at the other members of the Hot group, it’s clear that the bottom of the order along with a hot Aoki have been setting the tables for Hiroyasu to get hits with runners on the basepaths. However, Tanaka’s single run scored despite getting on base so much highlights the struggles of the Not group. Balentien finally broke out of his hitless streak with a homerun, he hasn’t gotten another hit to show us that he’s truly back. Hopefully the ship will right itself eventually, but the continued struggles of Balentien, Hatakeyama, and Whitesell is beginning to concern the fans.

Aoki is on a 11 game hitting streak.

The Pitching: It was a weird week for Swallows pitching. The team decided to go with the 6-man rotation of Shichijo, Kato, Tateyama, Ishikawa, Yamamoto, and Masubuchi. Shichijo, Tateyama, and Ishikawa all had very good starts lasting 7 or more innings and allowing no more than 2 runs, but only Shichijo got a win. The team ultimately went 2-0-1 in those games, while they went 1-1-1 with Kato, Yamamoto, and Masubuchi. The latter three pitched just well enough to keep the team in the position to win, but kept the bullpen busy. The bullpen pitched for 13.2 innings for the latter pitchers, while the bullpen only pitched 6 innings after Shichijo, Tateyama, and Ishikawa. It’ll be interesting to see how everything holds up as the weather heats up and pitchers are more likely to succumb to fatigue.

All Star Update: As we reported last week Yoshinori, Hatakeyama, Aoki, and Balentien were voted onto the All Star team by the fans. Earlier today the managers’ selections were announced and Tateyama, Lim, Miyamoto, and Aikawa will be joining the Central League All Stars. The 8 Swallows players selected will be a new team record beating out the 7 players selected in 1996 and 2001. There is an outside possibility that a ninth Swallows could join the team, as the 32nd player for each squad will be determined by a fan vote.

Injury Update: Muranaka made a second start with the Toda Swallows on Wednesday, throwing 75 pitches over 4 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, and 3 earned runs. There have been no public comments made as to whether Muranaka is considered ready to be recalled to the top team, or whether the team wants to give him more time at Toda. Yoshinori has just started to pitch in the bullpen and has not yet made a rehab start. It may be possible that he will make his first “first team” start at the All Star game.

YouTube user hatakeyama33, who posts video from Toda, has uploaded videos of Wedneday’s bullpen sessions including footage of Muranaka and Yoshinori. Those with a better eye for pitching form may be able to give us a scouting report.

Roster Moves: No major moves this week, Mikinori Kato was added to the roster on Tuesday and started Wednesday’s game. After a mediocre start Kato was sent down on Thursday in favor of Hitoshi Yamamoto who ended up starting on Saturday.

Quo Vadimus

Our Opponents: This week the Swallows will face the Giants in a 3 game “home” series with the opener being played at Shizuoka before returning to Jingu for games 2 and 3. After the Giants the Birds will face off against the Tigers in a 2 game series at “home” in Akita on Saturday and Sunday. The Giants rematch figures to feature a similar lineup pitchers as last time with a rematch of Shichijo versus Greisinger likely in Game 1. The Giants will probably follow with Kaneto and Tono as they did last week. Tateyama will likely start game 3 just like last week, but who the Swallows will start in game 2 remains to be seen. Muranaka is the most likely candidate, but his mediocre start in Toda may leave the door open for someone like Fernandes who pitched a solid game for Toda on Tuesday. If I mention it enough maybe it will happen, I’d really like to see this kid pitch. Another point of interest is how Shichijo will do the second time against the Giants now that they have more information on the rookie. Although if Shichijo can continue to hit his spots will his array of breaking pitches as he did last week, he should be OK.

The Tigers have started to heat up a a little going 6-2 since the end of Interleague, and have climbed up to 3rd in the league standings. Although, that record comes against the Giants, Carp, and BayStars. The Tigers will face the Swallows after facing the Dragons in a 3 game set. Based on the previous week’s starters the Tigers will likely start Messenger and Nomi against the Swallows.

Will Shichijo get another winning ball against the Giants?

About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.