Ugly First Start for Otani

Shohei Otani got his first NPB start for the struggling defending champion Nippon Ham Fighters. He has pitched one game in their minor leagues and it might have been wise to give him a second start. As can be expected Otani was a little wild walking three hitters in his 1.1 innings. The second inning he pitched was where he struggled. He struck out the first hitter he faced in that second inning but then walked the second on five pitches. He got behind the next two hitters 1-0 and 2-0 before giving up singles. A four pitch walk to the next batter ended the day for Otani.

Based on details provided by he threw mostly fastballs. The velocity was there. His first 13 pitches were fastballs. He ended up being charged with four runs allowed in just 1.1 innings after reliever Luis Mendoza gave up a three run double to Hikaru Ito, driving in all three Otani baserunners he inherited.

The five run inning gave the Orix Buffaloes a 6-3 win over Nippon Ham Fighters. Nippon finds themselves in fifth place in the Pacific Conference with a 31-51 record. They are 17 games back in the loss column from the third place Seibu Lions who are 43-34-2. Only the top three teams qualify for the playoffs.

The last time a team won a NPB championship but did not repeat a playoff run the following year was the 2013 Rakuten Golden Eagles. The 2013 team had Masahiro Tanaka lead them to the championship. After that season he was posted to the major leagues. The Eagles finished the 2014 season 64-80. Last year Otani led the Fighters to their championship. Other than a few games at the start of the season where he was in the starting lineup as a hitter the Fighters have been without Otani for most of the season.

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