Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Seibu Lions 2017 Opening Day roster announced
The Saitama Seibu Lions and the rest of NPB announced their 28-man opening day rosters for the 2017 season. Like anything, this will only be the guaranteed rosters for March 31.
Here is our reaction to each unit:
#14: Tatsushi Masuda
#15: Tatsuya Oishi
#16: Yusei Kikuchi
#18: Shinsaburo Tawata
#20: Ryoma Nogami
#23: Shogo Noda
#29: Hirotaka Koishi
#35: Kazuhisa Makita
#47: Brian Schlitter
#48: Shota Takekuma
#50: Kentaro Fukukura
#54: Brian Wolfe
The biggest surprise of this bunch is Kentaro Fukukura making the cut as he was mostly a reserve in ni-gun. He is likely the final arm in the Lions bullpen for mop up duty. Kikuchi is the opening day starter while Tawata, Wolfe and Nogami are expected to be starters. Schlitter could be a setup man while Masuda is the closer. Makita can take all bullpen roles while Koishi will eat up some innings.
Oishi should be a righty specialist and Takekuma can face lefties, but expect both of them to have an expanded role building off last season. Noda, who worked in Australia last winter, can be another lefty specialist.
Frank Garces or Ken Togame could be activated when they are scheduled to start on a six-game week. The next six-game week won't be until April 25 at the earliest. With only two pitching import spots used, a third spot is open for either Garces or Alexis Candelario, but both of them can't be on the roster with Wolfe and Schlitter already there. Kona Takahashi will likely come up as well.
#27: Ginjiro Sumitani
#37: Masatoshi Okada
#49: Tatsuyuki Uemoto
Tomoya Mori will be out for a month as he recovers from a fractured elbow. Sumitani should be the starting catcher, but Uemoto will be a solid pinch-hit option. Okada can bunt and serve as the backup as he got significant reps in the preseason due to Sumitani being with Samurai Japan at the WBC.
#3: Hideto Asamura
#6: Sosuke Genda
#8: Naoto Watanabe
#32: Kyohei Nagae
#33: Hotaka Yamakawa
#44: Shuta Tonosaki
#60: Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura
#99: Ernesto Mejia
Asamura begins his captaincy with a new double play partner on the infield. Genda, a third round draft pick from last October, becomes the team's starting shortstop. He will be the first rookie starting SS on opening day since Hiromichi Ishige (1981). Yamakawa and Mejia will likely trade spaces between 1B and DH while Okawari-kun moves back to 3B.
Nagae is a solid defensive substitute while Watanabe can be plugged anywhere as a utility infielder. Tonosaki will likely be a pinch runner until a pitcher becomes activated.
#1: Takumi Kuriyama
#51: Fumikazu Kimura
#55: Shogo Akiyama
#61: Shotaro Tashiro
#65: Shogo Saito
Kuriyama and Akiyama will start in LF and CF, respectively. Kimura will likely be the opening day starting right fielder as Yuji Kaneko recovers from shin splits. Saito can be a late defensive sub while Tashiro is a pinch runner.
Genda is the man the Lions are hoping for to be an instant impact in 2017. He won the job after a solid preseason and camp. There's plenty of fielders down in ni-gun who could get a look. If anyone is struggling, don't be surprised to see someone like Keisuke Honda or Katsunori Hirai get a look.
At some point in 2017, we should see first round draft pick Tatsuya Imai make his debut as long as he's healthy. It will only be a matter of when. Like anything, enjoy the ride. This season coming ahead should be interesting.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 11:18 AM