Tag Archive > Chunichi Dragons

A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

» 18 August 2012 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

While my baseball consumption has not returned to it’s previous levels, my itch to write has returned, so tonight I’m taking a hiatus from my hiatus to share a few thoughts on the season so far.

  • After years of anticipation, Yu Darvish, has made his Major League debut. The results have been mixed — lots of strikeouts, lots of walks. The walks are a surprise to me; the mid-season struggles are not. I must admit that fate has conspired against me, and I haven’t seen a single Darvish start all the way through this year.
  • Nippon Ham has carried on without Darvish, currently leading the Pacific League by a game over Seibu. 24 year-old lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa took advantage of the hole left by Darvish, and is enjoyed a breakout season. While he lacks Darvish’s eye-popping dominance, a 10-4 record with a 1.91 ERA isn’t too shabby.
  • I never thought I’d see Ichiro traded, but last month it happened. It felt more like Ichiro was on the path to retirement this season, but his bat has woken up a bit with the Yankees. Perhaps playing for a winning time will revive his career.
  • The Japanese Players Association is threatening to sit out next year’s World Baseball Classic if WBC Inc doesn’t give them a bigger share of the revenue. So far neither side is willing to budge. I hope they can work out some sort of agreement because a Japanese boycott would be bad for both sides.
  • I didn’t get to finish my predictions this spring, but every year I think that Chunichi is going to stumble and that Seibu is going to be good. And, every year I’m wrong, at least about the Chunichi side of the prediction. This year was no exception. I thought Chunichi was set for a big step backwards, but they’re comfortably in second place in the Central, and had been in the hunt for first until Yomiuri started to pull away. Seibu got off to a rough start and appeared to be headed for a disappointing season, but has righted the ship and is now in the hunt for a league title.
  • I was going to write something about Brad Penny here but I don’t think I’ll bother.
  • Softbank veteran Hiroki Kokubo announced his retirement last week. Otsukare-sama.
  • Yomiuri veteran and personal favorite Yoshinobu Takahashi slugged his 300th career home run last week. Jason Coskrey has more.
  • The two young players I’ve enjoyed watching the most this year? Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura and Yokohama DeNA’s Sho Aranami.
  • While it doesn’t stack up to MLB’s three perfect games this season, NPB has seen a pair of no-hitters this year: Toshiya Sugiuchi’s against Rakuten on May 30, and Kenta Maeda’s against DeNA on April 6. Although, I did not witness either of these games, I did catch a pair of near no-hitters. Another personal favorite, Daisuke Miura, took a no-no into the 9th against Hanshin on May 12, but pinch-hitter Shinjiro Hiyama put up a veteran at-bat, working a full count before finally hitting a long single. Hanshin eventually scored and Miura lost his shutout, but won the game. The other was another Sugiuchi gem, thrown on May 4 against Hanshin. The only solid contact I recall Sugiuchi surrendering happened to be the only hit Hanshin managed, a sharp single, hit mid-game by Takashi Toritani. The game lacked the drama of a late-innings no-hit bid, but was a dominant performance nonetheless.

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New Uniforms: Hanshin, Chunichi, Yokohama

» 03 February 2012 » In npb » 3 Comments

Spring Camps have opened and there is plenty to write about, but my schedule isn’t quite cooperating so I hope this recap of this year’s new uniforms will do. Fully half of the Central League is donning new threads this season, and here they are:


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Game Notes: Nippon Series Games 6 & 7

» 21 November 2011 » In mlb prospects, npb » 2 Comments

And so, my 12th season as an NPB fan has come to a close. Here’s how it happened:

Game 6 – Chunichi wins, 2-1:

  • Both starters, Kazuki Yoshimi and Tsuyoshi Wada, look tired. It’s been a long haul for them: like everyone else, they started camp in early February and experienced the delayed start to the season; but both also logged over 180 innings over the course of the year, plus three postseason starts each.
  • The guest commentator for game six? Yu Darvish. He didn’t really say anything interesting, at least not that I noticed.
  • Softbank started a better offensive lineup, with Hiroki Kokubo playing first base and Nobuhiko Matsunaka DHing. In the first two games at Yahoo Dome, Kokubo DHed while Shuhei Fukuda played first, with Matsunaka on the bench.
  • There was a great Softbank Hawks commercial with the Hawks players hitting line drives to each other.
  • Toru Hosokawa’s flyout in the third inning seemed like it would have been a home run with the old ball.
  • Chunichi got all of their offense out of the way in the first inning, courtesy of a two-run Kazuhiro Wada triple. After that, they never mounted much of a threat.
  • Softbank’s bats were equally lifeless, more so than in any game since their listless effort against Wei-Yin Chen in game one.
  • Four of the seven games resulted in a final score of 2-1.
  • I must admit… my notes are a little lacking from this one… so I must again turn to Michael Westbay’s write-up. Plus, he has a YouTube video of that commercial I mentioned.
Game 7 — read until the end:
  • Chunichi started Daisuke Yamai, the righty who pitched eight perfect innings in the decisive game five of the 2007 Nippon Series, only let closer Hitoki Iwase finish it off. Yamai only managed a third of a perfect inning this time, giving up a single to Yuichi Honda with one out in the first.
  • Softbank entrusted game seven to ace Toshiya Sugiuchi. Coincidentally, in September Sugiuchi took a no-hitter through six innings against Orix, but volunteered to leave the mound.
  • Like the game six starters, neither Yamai nor Sugiuchi scared anyone with their fastballs.
  • Critical point number one: bottom of the third. Softbank loaded the bases with Hitoshi Tamara singling, Yuya Hasegawa doubling on what was very nearly a great catch by Chunichi center fielder Yohei Oshima, and Katsuki Yamazaki walking on four straight bunt attempts. Hiromitsu Ochiai immediately went to his bullpen to play the matchup, bringing in lefty Masato Kobayashi to face Munenori Kawasaki and Honda, the Maximo Nelson to face righties Uchikawa and Kokubo. Kobayashi walked in a run, but got Honda, and Nelson induced a couple of lazy flyouts, so the strategy worked out pretty well. Hasegawa could have scored on Uchi’s flyout, but Softbank played it safe. Score: 1-0 Softbank.
  • Critical point number two: bottom of the fourth. Matsunaka drew a walk and Akiyama immediately took the bat out of one of his best hitter’s hands by having Matsuda bunt. After a Tamura line out, Chunichi pitched around Hasegawa for Yamazaki, and he made ’em pay with a sharp single to right, scoring Matsunaka. Then Kawasaki ended the rally with a very good at bat that resulted in a line out to left field. Score: 2-0 Softbank.
  • Ryosuke Hirata had an atrocious stolen base attempt in the fourth, after reaching base on a chopper in Sugiuchi’s direction that took a bad bounce.
  • Critical point number three: top of the seventh. With one out, Tony Blanco bounced a grounder back up the middle for a single. Kazuhiro Wada struck out without much resistance, but Hirata drew a walk to give the Dragons a runner in scoring position for the first time in the game. Then Sugiuchi struck out Atsushi Fujii to end the threat. It would be Chunichi’s last of the year. Score: 2-0 Softbank.
  • Like the rest of the series, Chunichi’s lineup went down without a fight. They scattered four singles (one of which was a swinging bunt) and a couple walks. And the seventh was the only inning when two runners on at the same time, which was the only time they got as far as 2nd base. In general they had bad at bats and didn’t force Softbank’s defense to make tough plays.
  • One of Chunichi’s coaches seemed to be using an iPad or something similar during the game.
  • Cabrera again struck out in a pinch hitting appearance, off Takuya Asao. His only good swing was on a first pitch fastball. He fouled it off, and he knew he missed his pitch.
  • Critical point number four: bottom of the seventh. Cabrera struck out, Kawasaki walked, Honda bunted him over (great play by Asao), and Uchikawa singled him in. I think this was the only time in the series that Akiyama got his desired result with a bunt. Score: 3-0 Softbank.
  • Softbank did threaten again with two outs in the eighth, but nothing came of it.
  • Brian Falkenborg took a line drive off his wrist in the top of the ninth, but was okay. In his place, a relay of Masahiko Morifuku and Tadashi Settsu closed out the win.
  • Softbank owner Masayoshi Son handed what looked like money to the guy standing next to him. Akiyama shed tears, and was tossed seven times in a ceremonial douage.
  • And so it was that the Hawks took game seven 3-0, and thus the Nippon Series, their first Nippon-ichi in eight years and first under Softbank’s ownership.

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Playoff Picks

» 28 October 2011 » In npb » 8 Comments

While the MLB postseason is ready to come to what will certainly be a dramatic end, the NPB playoffs are just about to begin. The Climax Series opens for both leagues on Saturday, October 29 (JST), with the third place and second place finishers squaring off in the opening round. As a refresher, here is the format of the NPB postseason:

  • Climax Series, First Stage: best of three series between the second place and third place finishers.
  • Climax Series, Second Stage: best of seven series between the league champion (first place finisher) and the First Stage winner. The league champion is automatically credited with a one-win advantage.
  • Japan Series: best of seven series between the Central League Climax Series winner and Pacific League Climax Series winner.
And on to my picks…

Pacific League First Stage: Seibu vs Nippon Ham

I’m going to credit Nippon Ham with with an immediate win because of the presence of Yu Darvish, and then a second one because of their superior pitching and defense. Pick: Nippon Ham, 2-0. Key player: Yu Darvish.

Central League First Stage: Yomiuri vs Yakult

Though the Swallows and Giants finished a game apart in the standings, they went in opposite directions this season. Yakult got off to a hot start and faded down the stretch, while Yomiuri had to claw their way into contention after a sub-par start. Yakult won the season series 12-8-4, but Yomiuri has stronger pitching and most offensive threats overall. Pick Yomiuri, 2-1. Key player: Hisayoshi Chono.

Pacific League Second Stage: Nippon Ham vs Softbank

Softbank has every edge here: a deeper rotation, a better lineup, a 16-7-1 regular season record against Nippon Ham, more rest, and a one-game advantage for finishing first. Softbank has also been on their game recently against Nippon Ham, with an 8-1-1 record against the Fighters in September and October. Pick: Softbank 4-1. Key player: Seiichi Uchikawa.

Central League Second Stage: Yomiuri vs Chunichi

This is a close call. Yomiuri has a narrow regular season 12-10-2 edge over Chunichi, and both teams prevented runs this season at about the same pace. Chunichi lineup is weak, the worst in the CL this year, but they have been bullpen options than Yomiuri. So a series of close games probably favors Chunichi, and of course they have the rest and automatic wins advantages, plus the Ochiai destiny. My gut is saying Chunichi, but my brain is saying Yomiuri. Pick Chunichi 4-3. Key player: Takuya Asao.

Japan Series: Chunichi vs Softbank

Maybe it’s bland to predict a Japan Series between the two league champions, but that’s what I see. It’s probably equally bland to pick the more statistically dominant team to win as well… but it’s hard to pick against Softbank. They allowed 59 fewer runs than anyone else in Japan, with a 2.30 team ERA. Offensively they finished second overall to Seibu’s Okawari-kun-fueled lineup, but their 550 runs was 66 better than third place Yakult. Chunichi has enough pitching to keep the games close, but ultimately suffers with a big disadvantage at the plate.

Pick: Softbank 4-2. Key player: Tsuyoshi Wada (with wins in games two and six).

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A Knuckleheaded Move By Chunichi

» 22 September 2011 » In npb » 5 Comments

When I woke up this morning and did my daily check of the news, I was surprised to see headlines that included the words “Ochiai” and “leaving the team”. My first thought was, “why is Hiromitsu Ochiai stepping down as manager of the Chunichi Dragons?” But he’s not quitting, Chunichi’s management has decided not to renew his contract, electing to replace him with 70 year-old former Dragons manager Morimichi Takagi. When given the news from Chunichi owner Bungo Shirai, Ochiai said, “yes, understood”, and later commented “that’s the kind of world this is.”

This is either pure baseball idiocy or there’s something behind the scenes that isn’t public knowledge. Ochiai’s Dragons have done little other than win since he took over in 2004. In the seven seasons he’s managed, the Dragons have finished first or second every year, except 2008, when they finished third. The Dragons have also made four Nippon Series appearances under Ochiai’s watch (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), winning the big prize in 2007. This year, despite my predictions, the Dragons are again in second place, within striking distance of first place Yakult as the season winds down.

The Dragons’ success has come in spite of losing star contributors like Kosuke Fukudome, Kenshin Kawakami and Tyrone Woods over the years. Chunichi for the most part hasn’t acquired expensive replacements for their departed stars, instead extracting useful performances from bargain bin foreign players like Tony Blanco and Enyelbert Soto, and developing prospects like Wei-Yin Chen, Kazuki Yoshimi and Masahiko Morino. The one notable free agent signing Chunichi made, Kazuhiro Wada (to replace Fukudome), blossomed into an MVP winner under Ochiai.

So I don’t get it. I think this is the worst NPB managerial change since Yomiuri forced Tatsunori Hara out and replaced with with the reviled Tsuneo Horiuchi following the 2003 season (Hara’s crime: finishing second to Hanshin). The winner could wind up being Nippon Ham, the team Ochiai finished his playing career with, if they can convince him to move north to Hokkaido and replace outgoing manager Masataka Nashida.

Update: Daily Sports says Ochiai is on his way out because of his high salary (JPY 370m) and the fact that Chunichi never turned a profit during his run as manager.

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Late Nippon Series Preview: Chunichi vs Lotte

» 29 October 2010 » In npb » 4 Comments

Edit: The game was in Nagoya. I must have been worn out when I wrote this.

In my grand tradition of starting a post and then taking forever to finish it, I’m wrapping this up in just the nick of time.

So this year’s Nippon Series opens later today (JST) in Nagoya Chiba, weather permitting. I’ve given the matchup a good look and I’m ready to share my pick.

Starting Rotation

Lotte’s ace, Yoshihisa Naruse, is good but home run prone. Number two starter Yuki Karakawa is supposed to come back for the Series, but after two long disruptions this season it’s hard to know what to expect from him. The next three starters, Shunsuke Watanabe, Bill Murphy and Hayden Penn are all capable of having good games,

Chunichi leads off with lefty ace Wei-Yin Chen, who is a contract in styles to Naruse. Kazuki Yoshimi (a personal favorite of mine) and Kenichi Nakata are both solid pitchers who struggled to absorb innings this year, though that shouldn’t come into play in a short series. No 4 man Daisuke Yamai has eight innings of Chunichi’s 2007 Nippon Series perfect game to his name. A fifth option, Maximo Nelson, was effective in the nine starts he got this season, but he could be used in the bullpen.

Edge: I prefer Chunichi’s starters, but it’s a bit closer than I originally perceived.


Hiroyuki Kobayashi made a successful transition to the ‘pen in 2010 for Lotte, and leads a solid bullpen that features four pitchers who appeared in at least 57 games in 2010. Yasuhiko Yabuta posted solid numbers in his return to Japan, though nine home runs in 65.2 innings of work is problematic for a reliever. Yoshihiro Itoh (64.2 IP, 3.58 ERA) and lefty Takuya Furuya (55.2, 2.91) round out the group.

Chunichi’s bullpen is led by longtime closer Hitoki Iwase, but the real relief ace in 2010 was Takuya Asao. The hard-throwing Asao appeared in 72 games, threw 80.1 innings, posted a 12-3 record and 1.68 ERA, and set an NPB record with an astonishing 59 “hold points” (holds + relief wins). Masafumi Hirai had one of his good years in 2010, and Akifumi Takahashi posted perhaps the best numbers of any lefty reliever in the Central League this season. Nelson will provide extra depth if he doesn’t start.

Edge: Chunichi has a big advantage here.


Lotte’s run production was tops in the Pacific League, with 708 Marines crossing the plate in 2010. They did it with a remarkably balanced lineup. While Lotte only had one player top 20 home runs (Kim Tae-Gyun at 21), they had eight players who hit at least 10. Lotte scored by keeping runners on base: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.423) and Tadahito Iguchi (.412) finished 2nd and 3rd in the Pacific League in OBP. Among their regulars, Shoitsu Ohmatsu had the worst OBP at .339, and even that was good enough for 21st in the Pacific League.

Chunichi has more of a “three-run home run” kind of lineup, with a menacing mid-order presence in Kazuhiro Wada, the steady bat of Masahiko Morino, and a proven power threat in Tony Blanco. After that, they’ve got slap-hitting top-order man Masahiro Araki and not much else.

Edge: Lotte. They are simpler better one through nine.

The Verdict

I’m saying Chunichi in six games. I think they have enough hitting to hang around, and the pitching to ice leads when they get them.

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NPB Bullet Points: Caraballo Debuts, Kudoh Returns, Chunichi Rolls

» 20 July 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

A couple of debuts and a new NPB record to share. Today’s articles will require your Japanese language skills, or the Fish.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/09/09)

» 09 September 2008 » In npb » 2 Comments

Going with all Japanese articles for today’s bullet points, since I haven’t really read anything in English for the last couple of days.

Japanese Articles:

Question for bullet points readers: do you enjoy the Japanese content or the English content more? What topics do you find most interesting?

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Player Profile: Hitoki Iwase

» 05 August 2008 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

The consensus top three NPB free agents this upcoming off season are Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, and Hitoki Iwase. I’ve already written about Uehara and Kawakami, so today I’ll cover Chunichi Dragons closer Iwase.

Career Thus Far
Hitoki Iwawe is probably the most accomplished relief pitcher currently active in Japan. In his 10 professional seasons with the Dragons, he has a 2.02 ERA with 187 saves and 47-28 record. His peripherals are good as well: in 614 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 565 while walking 140 and allowing only 26 home runs.

Chunichi moved Iwase into the closer role in 2004 with the departure of Akinori Otsuka, and he immediately flourished. In 2005 he set a new NPB save record with 45, starting a run of three consecutive 40+ save seasons. That streak is unlikely to continue this year, as even though he has 27 saves so far, he’ll miss time to play in the Olympics. Overall he’s been a little more hittable this year, but still has a 2.87 ERA and 31/8 K/BB. JapaneseBaseball.com has Iwase’s stats through 2007 available in English, and you can find his stats to date in Japanese here.

2007 Japan Series
The defining moment in Iwase’s career was the deciding fifth game of the 2007 Japan Series. Dragons starter Daisuke Yamai had a perfect game through eight innings when manager Hiromitsu Ochiai controversially summoned Iwase to pitch the 9th. A nervous Iwase sent down the bottom of Nippon Ham’s lineup in order, keeping the perfect game intact and giving Chunichi it’s first Japan Championship since 1954.

You can watch Iwase’s perfect 9th inning on YouTube, or read Gary Garland’s excellent account of the game for more information.

Iwase is a three-pitch guy, with a fastball, slider, and shuuto. He’s not going to overpower anyone with a  fastball that sits at about 89 MPH and doesn’t get much faster. That said, his fastball has movement and he spots it well. Iwase’s out pitch is his low 80’s slider, which has good movement and he’ll throw in any count. His third pitch is a shuuto, which he’s throwing more often this year, particularly to right handed hitters. Iwase pitches down in the zone and generally has good command.

I’ve scrounged some YouTube footage of Iwase striking out Yoshinobu Takahashi, not getting the call on a couple of sliders, and throwing fastballs and shuutos in the 2006 All Star game. Yes, that is Daisuke Matsuzaka coaching third base in the All Star game.

Contract Status & MLB Interest
Iwase is among the highest paid pitchers in Japan with his approximately $4.3M/year salary. He qualified for free agency following the 2007 season, but opted to sign a one-year contract to remain with Chunichi. There was speculation that he wanted to see how other Japanese relievers like Masa Kobayashi fare in the big leagues. I’ll also suggest that he wanted to spend another year pitching with his close friend Kenshin Kawakami, and that he wanted to represent Japan in the Olympics. This is purely speculation on my part.

The interest from the MLB side is there. Last year, Iwase drew public interest from the Rockies, Yankees, and White Sox. Sponichi reported earlier this year that the Mariners and Rangers had scouts at the Dragons’ spring training camp. Joel Sherman commented on Iwase during last year’s World Series.

For his part, Iwase seems to be less outspoken about leaving Japan than some of his NPB compatriots. His clearest comment I could find on the matter was “to say I’m not interested would be a lie”.

You’d have to go back to Kazuhiro Sasaki to find an NPB closer with better career numbers than Iwase. Iwase actually beats Sasaki in some categories, but Sasaki’s peak was better than Iwase’s (so far).

Despite the struggles of Yasuhiko Yabuta and Kazuo Fukumori, NPB import relievers have a pretty good track record of MLB success thanks to guys like Sasaki, Akinori Otsuka, Hideki Okajima, and Takashi Saito. That point, combined with Iwase’s achievements, seem to make him a reasonably safe bet for MLB success should he choose to come over. I think the key for him will be to mix up his stuff and not let MLB hitters sit on his fastball.

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Player Profile: Kenshin Kawakami

» 23 July 2008 » In mlb prospects » 6 Comments

MlbTradeRumors.com has been kind enough to link to me several times, most recently from post about impending NPB free agents. Too bad I didn’t finish this over the weekend; if I had Tim could have included this profile of Chunichi Dragons ace Kenshin Kawakami as well.

Kawakami has, in my opinion, the most MLB potential of any of the upcoming NPB free agents. I expect to see him in an MLB uniform next season, based on public statements he’s made:

“Saying I don’t want to go would be a lie. As long as I’m playing baseball, it’s fine to aim high. I think it’s also fine to consider the future.”

“Because I like the Chunichi Dragons, I want to challenge myself to go to the Majors. My plan is to go to the Majors, gain experience there, and come back to the Nagoya in the end.”

These comments were made in a live talkshow event after the 2006 season, but I have no reason to think he’s changed his mind since then. It’s worth noting that former teammates Akinori Ohtsuka and Kosuke Fukudome have both had success at the MLB level, which might be a bit of a confidence-booster.

Career Path & Personal Accolades
Kawakami is not quite as decorated as Koji Uehara, but he’s close. Kawakami’s pro career started in 1998, went he went 14-6 and took the Rookie of the Year award. He then took a step back and went through some wilderness years between ’99 and ’01, but bounced back in 2002 with a 12-6 record and 2.35 ERA. He also threw a no-hitter in ’02 against a Giants team that still featured Hideki Matsui.

The right hander has put in strong performances each year since then, including 2003 when he missed significant time with an injury. He won the Sawamura Award as Japan’s top pitcher as well as the Central MVP in 2004, when he went 17-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 192 IP. He was actually better in 2006, again going 17-7 but with 2.51 ERA in 215 IP. He lost out on the Sawamura that year to a dominant Kazumi Saitoh.

Other personal achievements include three Gold Gloves, two Best Nine Awards, two victory titles and one strikeout title. He also holds an NPB record with eight Monthly MVP awards, the most recent coming last month.

Kawakami is having another strong year (find his stats in English here) but will probably lose out on the Sawamura again, this time to Yu Darvish.

Kawakami’s Dragons won the Central League crowns in 1999, 2004, and 2006 and took the Japan Series in 2007. The 2007 Japan Championship was only second in team history, and the first since 1954. The ’07 Japan Series ended in dramatic fashion; maybe I’ll write about that another time. For now I’ll point you to this Baseball Prospectus article (free for the week) and Marinerds, etc.

Kawakami isn’t overpowering; his fastball tops out in the low 90’s. His control is good, though not quite as awe-inspiring as Koji Uehara’s. And his windup isn’t deceptive, like many Japanese pitchers. Kawakami gets by purely on quality stuff.

Kawakami’s featured pitch is a cut fastball, which, according to Wikipedia, is known as Japan’s finest among visiting MLB All-Stars. He also has a slow curve, which he throws at 65-70 MPH. The rest of his arsenal is fairly typical: fastball, shuuto, fork. He changes speeds pretty well, particularly between his curve and harder stuff.

I’ve selected some YouTube footage from Kawakami’s most recent appearance, Chunichi’s 2-1 loss to Hanshin on July 18. Kawakami took a no-decision, striking out 10 and allowing one earned run over 8.0 innings. 2nd inning, 3rd/4th inning, 8th inning, and just for fun, Kyuji Fujikawa‘s appearance in the 9th (pt1/pt2).

Also of Note
For those of you that read Japanese, Kenshin maintains a blog here. He is close friends with Chunichi closer Hitoki Iwase, and will be joining him on Japan’s Olympic roster. Wikipedia mentions a friendly rivalry with Uehara — Uehara taught Kawakami his fork, while Kawakami returned the favor by teaching Uehara his cutter. Kawakami is also known as a gutsy player who is not afraid to show his emotions on the field.

Uehara’s stock has slipped some this season, so I think Kawakami has a chance to be the most highly sought after MLB import this off season. I would speculate that he can be a solid mid-rotation guy that you can win with at that MLB level.

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