Right-hander Tadashi Settsu is all but certain to start in the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks' opening game of the upcoming Pacific League season, sources said on Thursday.

The 32-year-old will become the first pitcher from the franchise to start on Opening Day for the fourth year in a row.

Softbank manager Kimiyasu Kudo stopped short of naming Settsu on Thursday, but said he told the player he has selected to start of his decision on Tuesday.

"I have decided (on who will start) based on past results and performances in the bullpen at the camp," Kudo said. "I have said that is the kind of pitcher I want (to start) and that is the way it will stay."

Settsu, the 2012 Pacific League MVP and Sawamura Award winner, has posted double-digit wins the past four years and won on Opening Day the last three seasons in succession.

Settsu is set to start on in the Hawks' open season game against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Saturday at Yafuoku Dome. He is expected to throw around 20 innings over four games ahead of the Hawks' PL opener against the Chiba Lotte Marines on March 27.