After a rough start to the season, the Orix Buffaloes have clawed their way to a .500 record and into contention a playoff spot. So far, they’ve followed the same path that they took last: making up for a bad start by beating up on Central League teams in interleague play, then continuing to hover around respectability. So far they’re three games over .500 since returning to league play.
Orix has so far posted the worst ERA in the Pacific League, though not by much (3.28 to Seibu’s 3.25). That’s not terribly surprising, but going into the season, I really liked Orix’s rotation options. I saw a lot of question marks, but plenty of depth and a lot of upside as well. A couple of the question marks have come up positive, most notably Hayato Terahara and Alfredo Figaro, but Orix’s bad pitchers have been the worst in the Pacific League. Check out these numbers:
- Satoshi Komatsu — 0.1 IP, 5 ER
- Tatsuya Kajimoto — 1.1 IP, 3 ER
- Masahide Kobayashi — 4.2 IP, 7 ER
- Masato Nishikawa — 3 IP, 4 ER
- Evan MacLane — 2.1 IP, 2 ER
- Kazuya Takamiya — 6.1 IP, 5 ER
- Hiroshi Kisanuki — 43 IP, 27 ER (32 R)
Add it all up and these seven pitchers have surrendered 53 earned runs over 61 innings pitched, which works out to an ugly 7.82 ERA, and over a fifth of Orix’s team total.The non-Kisanuki members of the group have an even more jarring 13.00 ERA over 18 innings of work, though to be fair, none of them has gotten much of a look. And to be intellectually honest, even if we took these 61 innings away and replaced them with scoreless innings, Orix would still be a ways off Nippon Ham and Softbank in terms of run prevention.
So, what happens next? Over the road back to respectability, Orix seems to have found a bullpen that works a bit better, as most of the guys from my bullet point list haven’t seen any recent game action. Kisanuki pitches on the 11th, so we’ll see if he has any bounce-back in him season. Chihiro Kaneko and Kazuki Kondo have both missed time with injuries this season, but are back now. Chan Ho Park was had some rough spots early in the season, has good enough stuff to compete in Japan. He’s currently out with a torn muscle and is expected back around the All-Star break. It looks like there is enough here to keep things interesting, even if they probably won’t contend for a title.