The Saitama Seibu Lions previously lost closer Tatsushi Masuda due to a poor performance. Enter Kaima Taira, who was previously the setup man to take the 9th inning.
At the time of this writing, he has 38 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, tying the NPB record set by Kyuji Fujikawa.
With Taira having a 0.00 ERA up to this point, he has carried the Lions into mediocrity instead of being a no-doubt B-class team. While the Lions are currently in B-class, they're also alive and in the hunt mostly playing .500 ball.
It is nearly a similar vibe to last season, where the bullpen was consistent, yet the starters weren't great and the offense was below average.
This time around, the starters have taken a step forward through Kona Takahashi being the team's ace, while Wataru Matsumoto and Tatsuya Imai have improved from last year.
However, the bullpen prior to the 9th inning is the issue with no consistency. Tetsu Miyagawa was dropped to ni-gun while Ken Togame, Reed Garrett, Shota Takekuma, Ryosuke Moriwaki and even a young Yutaro Watanabe have seen some high leverage situations in protecting a lead.
On offense, the Lions have had a surprise performance from Nien Ting Wu keeping his job on the infield while Junichiro Kishi took starts away from Yuji Kaneko. Hotaka Yamakawa came back from injury and Tomoya Mori looks like he's returned to form, though the power hitting on this team is not up to par.
For now, it's all about individual accomplishments from waiting for Takumi Kuriyama to reach 2,000 career hits to Taira carrying this Pacific League record in games without an earned run.
This team is rebuilding when it comes to position players, but the starters and Taira have both done their part to keep the team competitive. On paper, they would come short of A-class, but there is still another half of the season to go. We should be in for a big finish which could come down to the final week.
ALL STARS VOTED
A congratulations go to Sosuke Genda, Takeya Nakamura, Hotaka Yamakawa, Tomoya Mori and Taira for being the fan votes into the All Star Series.
As a whole, it's kind of silly to overreact to reach votes and snubs, as it's really the fan's game. Everyone can pick who they want whether they're great or marginal players. Personally, only Taira and Mori are deserving, but Genda has shown his value too.
Just wanted to announce I'll be on vacation again from July 1-7 on another trip. Tweets and posts will be inactive again..
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