Sunday, October 29, 2017
Report: Lions will not retain Brian Schlitter
The Saitama Seibu Lions entered the offseason in early October and made another decision. On Monday, the Japanese media reported they won't bring Brian Schlitter back to the team.
Schlitter, 31, was the setup man for the Lions bullpen in 2017. The Chicago native was with the team as early as fall camp in 2016, where he was informed he could compete for the closer role.
After having a strong start to the season, Schlitter struggled in the final six weeks where he blew a four run lead against the Rakuten Eagles on August 30. He finished 2017 with a 1-5 record, 32 holds and a 2.83 ERA.
In 63.2 innings of regular season work, he only had 23 strikeouts and 29 walks. Management likely remembers Game 3 in the first stage of the Climax Series, where Schlitter took the top of the 8th inning. With the Lions trailing by one run, Schlitter gave up a solo HR to Zelous Wheeler and a two-run bomb to Shintaro Masuda to put the game out of reach. He only allowed one HR in the regular season.
By letting Schlitter go, this is a vote of confidence in Tomomi Takahashi, who returned in September while coming off Tommy John surgery. Takahashi was previously the team's closer until Tatsushi Masuda took the role.
Schlitter becomes the fourth import to not be retained by the Lions in 2017. Alexis Candelario was released in the middle of the regular season, while Frank Garces and Stephen Fife spent a brief stint in the Miyazaki Phoenix League during October, but were also released.
Most recently, Shotaro Tashiro became a senryokugai release after the 2017 NPB Draft, making it a total of 12 roster subtractions thus far. The Lions drafted six players and two ikusei in the draft.
Assuming the Lions sign their six main draft picks, the 70-man roster will have six openings. However, the Lions will likely keep two spots open if they want to promote either or both of their ikusei picks to the main roster.
With this likely to happen, the Lions have room for four players at minimum, as they can all be imports. There has been no announcement on Chun-Lin Kuo or Brian Wolfe returning for 2018 or not.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 3:54 PM