Series Preview: Chunichi Dragons 5/3-5/5

The Dragons opt for a supportive approach, high-fiving Joel Guzman after another strikeout.
After a week of highs and lows, the Swallows regrouped for a day before heading home to Jingu for a series with the reinvigorated Chunichi Dragons. The Dragons were a sorry looking squad when we swept them two weeks ago. Their lineup would have had trouble scoring a run in my dad's slow pitch softball league. As it was, they managed just two runs in three games, tallying a whopping total of 13 hits in three games. Since then they have gone 5-1, sweeping the Baystars, and taking two of three from the Carp. Let's take a closer look at the numbers though:

Average runs for the six games: 3. Not a huge total. Certainly surmountable for the Swallows who have averaged a whole run more during their last six.

Top 6 hitters: The "strength" of the Dragons lineup is their top 6 hitters. They feature Araki and Ibata, the table-setters, Morino and Wada, the all around great hitters, and Blanco and Guzman, the power hitters. In the six games where they have gone 5-1, only Ibata (.389) and Araki (.318) have a .300+ average. Blanco comes close at .294. The other 3 continue to struggle. Wada, the reigning MVP, went 4-20, good for a .200 average. Guzman went 3-19 (.158) while continuing his strikeout per game pace, and Morino went 1-17.

What it means: Araki and Ibata will get on base but it is up to the Swallows pitchers (Ishikawa, Sato, and Tateyama for this series) to make sure they stay there by getting Morino, Wada, Blanco, and Guzman out. They will not always succeed and the Dragons will not score just 2 runs in the whole series like last time. The new-look Swallows lineup must continue to produce. Balentien should provide more run support after being moved up to the fifth spot.

The Dragons pitching was great during their series with us and the Baystars. Against the Carp it fell off, however. They allowed a total of 15 runs in their 3 game series. They get a boost as their ace Wei-Yin Chen is expected to return after being out for the first part of the season.

Prediction: 2 out of 3. The last time I predicted 2 out of 3 with the top of the rotation going we earned a sweep. The next time I predicted 2 out of 3 we lost 2 out of 3. So this is a litmus test as to whether I should continue the 2 out of 3 formula (realistically I can see us getting our brooms out but I don't want to say it, lest I disturb the Baseball Gods...so this is me saying it without actually saying it, you follow?).

Notes: Kyohei Muranaka, who left the Tiger's game after throwing just 14 pitches, has a right flank tear and will need about 4 weeks to recover.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise


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