The Monday Review #14

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.

This week we’ll deviate a little from our usual formula. This week we’ll only focus on just two main topics. First, we will unpack all the roster moves that went down this week and discuss their implications. The second half will look past this week’s games and give you a summery of the games that lie ahead for the Swallows in the home stretch. These topics still roughly follow the ‘Week That Was’ and ‘Quo Vadimus’ themes, so we’ll keep those headings. So, without further ado let’s get on with our analysis.

The Week That Was

Roster Moves: Last week’s roster moves began with the recall of injured speedster Kazuki Fukuchi and young catcher Yuhei Nakamura. Yasushi Iihara was sent down to make room on the roster. The recall of Nakamura was interesting as it meant that the Swallows were carrying 3 catchers on the roster. The move seemed to be designed to give veteran catcher Aikawa some rest for the home stretch, as Kawamoto was given 3 starts at catcher this week. Kawamoto started 2 games in the sweltering Jingu and played significant innings in the game he did start. The return of Fukuchi was seen as a plus as when healthy, he’s a great defensive reliever and a pinch running threat. Unfortunately it seems that he may not have returned in 100% condition as he was removed from the roster earlier today.

The next move that occurred last week was the recall of Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi in favor of Chikara Onodera on Thursday. The removal of Onodera was not a difficult but there was some speculation that Masubuchi would be returning as a reliever given that Katsuki Akagawa started Thursday’s game. Those speculations were quickly shot out of the water with the surprise announcement that Shohei Tateyama would be removed from the active roster due to finger discomfort on his throwing hand. The source of the discomfort has not been revealed in the media, and the timetable for Tateyama’s return is unknown. Young Tetsuya Yamamoto was called up for the first time in Tateyama’s place, and he pitched effectively in relief on Saturday.

The final major move last week was the recall of Aaron Guiel and Yuichi, for Whitesell and Miyade. While this move comes as bit of a surprise, it’s not inconsistent with the Swallows recent moves to rest ineffective guys (see: Aikawa) and take a quick look at everyone. While we love Guiel here at Tsubamegun we expect his stay with the top team to be short unless he can perform big right away. Guiel has only appeared in 15 ni-gun games this season, most recently on August 12, and has been doing most of his work in workouts and in the batting cage. Yuichi in his stint in ni-gun has put up good numbers and has the potential to keep Miyade off the top team as a right handed bat off the bench.

For those counting potential return dates, the earliest that Lim can return to the active roster is August 23rd, Tateyama on the 30th, and Whitesell on the 31st.

 

Alright, let's look at a funny picture before we move on!!!

Quo Vadimus

The Swallows have played one game under two-thirds of their schedule, and now have 49 games left in their season. Instead of just looking at this week’s games, this week’s Quo Vadimus will look at our game counts against each of our Central League rivals and look at how we’ve done against the so far. We’ll look at our competition in a particular order. (We’ll let you guess the reasoning behind the order.)

Giants: The Swallows have already played out most of their string against the Giants, having played 20 games to the tune of a 10-6-4 record. Even with 4 games remaining the Swallows have already guaranteed their first non-losing season against the Giants in 11 years. The remaining 4 games will be split between a 3 game Jingu series to kick off September and a single rain make up date at the Tokyo Dome on September 20. The Swallows have been undefeated against the Giants at Jingu this season, going 2-0-2. Even if we include the Swallows’ home away from home games against the Giants, the Swallows are still undefeated at home with a 7-0-2 record. These numbers no doubt underscore the importance of getting homefield advantage by finishing ahead of the Giants.

Tigers: The Swallows still have half their games against the Tigers left on their schedule. In the first 12 games the Tigers have throughly spanked the Swallows to the tune of 3-9. The remaining 12 games will be split between 6 Jingu games and 6 away games (3 at Koshien and 3 at Kyocera Dome). The Swallows have fared marginally better at home getting 2 of their 3 wins in home games. Needless to say, the Swallows’ performance can greatly influence the outcome of the CL race and will be a good barometer of our playoff readiness. We need to show we can take the Tigers as we were not able to convincingly win against them when they were struggling early in the season.

Dragons: The Swallows have 11 games remaining against the team from Nagoya, and after this week’s Jingu series the last 8 games of this matchup will be played in the Nagoya Dome. The Swallows have a stellar 8-2-2 record against the Dragons so far, but save for their 1-1-1 visit to Nagoya earlier this month, most of that record comes at home. The schedule will see the Swallows play two 4 game series in the Nagoya Dome including the regular season ending series. Hopefully the Birds will have made the final series irrelevant, and being able to continue to beat up on the Dragons will help us do that.

Carp: The Carp have played us very competitively this year with the two teams tallying a 6-6-2 record so far. The 10 remaining games will be split up between 7 games at Jingu and a 3 game series at Mazda Stadium. The 7 Jingu game will be split between two 3 game series, and 1 random game on September 21. The Carp and the Tigers are the only teams against which the Swallows do not have a winning record. Incidentally, that fact extends into our home record as the Swallows have gone 1-3-1 in home games (1-2 at Jingu) against the Carp.  Interestingly, the Swallows have gone 3-0-1 in games started by last year’s Sawamura Award winner, Kenta Maeda. The Carp have played everyone quite tough this year, but should still be beatable. If we want to show we’re a cut above the CL muddle, taking easy games off the Carp will be key.

BayStars: Even with all the shake up in the CL this year, the Yokohama BayStars remain everyone’s punching bag being the only team to sport a losing record against each team. That being said, the BayStars have been surprisingly competitive against the Giants (5-7), Dragons (8-9), and Tigers (6-8-2), while being blasted by the Carp (3-11) and the Swallows (2-9-3). With the BayStars 11.5 games behind FIFTH place in the CL, it’s time for Swallows’ fans to become secondary BayStars fans and cheer for them to play spoiler against the rest of the CL. The Swallows themselves still have 9 games left between the BayStars, split between 3 Jingu games and 6 Yokohama games.

Those counting above will note a 22/27 split between home and road games the rest of the way. Even as the Swallows struggle no one team has really stepped up. As long as the other teams continue to beat each other up the Swallows will make the playoff playing middling baseball, but unless the Swallows pick up their game they may not last long in the playoffs.

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.

  • Kozo

    As expected, Lim was re-activated today.

  • Thanks a lot, that was a very interesting read.
    I am really beginning to have doubts about how this season will turn out, but even if everything goes sour, I will be happy knowing the team achieved this.
    “The Swallows have already guaranteed their first non-losing season against the Giants in 11 years.”
    Sweet!