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Too early to worry about Otani’s season, says Darvish

by

Staff Writer

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ace Shohei Otani has just one win and a 3.34 ERA after eight starts, but former Fighters ace Yu Darvish says it’s too early to worry about the 21-year-old right-hander.

Darvish, now a star pitcher for the Texas Rangers, recently took to social media to voice his opinion.

“Anybody can have a bad season,” Darvish was quoted as saying in a report by Daily Sports. “It’s way too early to say if it’s good or bad in Otani’s case because it’s not even June yet.”

Otani, who has thrown 56⅔ innings, has had some command issues, but outside of his win-loss record, his other numbers have been solid. He leads Japan with 69 strikeouts, and has a 1.24 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). His walks (24) are up this year with the aforementioned command troubles leading to a 3.81 walk rate.

Otani’s fielding independent pitching (which measures only the outcomes a pitcher controls) is 2.81 and lower than his ERA. So he’s pitched a little better than he’s gotten credit for, and given his proficiency in other areas, his ERA may move closer to his FIP as the rest of the season plays out.

“I’ve had bad months,” Darvish said. “He’s the type of person who really prepares well every time, that’s why he’ll be able to fix things.”

Next chapter: There were 127 NPB players who were forced to move on after not being offered new contracts by their teams after the 2015 season. Of those, 87 are still in baseball in some capacity according to an NPB report.

According to the report, 61 found other work in NPB, with 11 signing with another club, four inking ikusei (developmental) deals, 11 joining a NPB coaching staff and the remaining 35 becoming part of a team’s front office staff.

Twenty ended up outside NPB, with some joining independent or corporate league clubs, and one becoming the manager of a college team. Six moved into the media ranks.

The remaining 40 are working outside the sport.

CL digs the long ball: The ball has been flying out of Central League parks at a pretty consistent clip early in the season. Heading into Tuesday’s games, the Chunichi Dragons’ Dayan Viciedo was leading the league with 13, while five other CL players had at least 10. The Yomiuri Giants’ Hayato Sakamoto was on the cusp with nine and three others had seven.

Only two Pacific League players had reached double digits as of Monday. The Seibu Lions’ Ernesto Mejia, who has been striking fear into the hearts of pitchers across the PL, had an NPB-leading 15. Mejia had already homered at least three times against four of the other PL clubs and once against the Chiba Lotte Marines, the team he was due to face Tuesday and Wednesday.

Brandon Laird of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters was second to Mejia with 10.