When is a slider not a slider? When it’s thrown by Hayato Takagi.
Watching the Yomiuri Giants-DeNA BayStars game tonight with Giants rookie Hayato Takagi on the mound, viewers were treated to this exchange between the announcer and the analyst, Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo.
Announcer: “There’s Takagi’s cutball (cut fastball). It’s really breaking for him and troubling the hitters.”
Kokubo: “Of course, when you see it, you know it’s not actually a cut fastball, but that’s what he calls it. Anybody using English would call it a slider, because that’s what it is.”
Announcer: “Yes. Of course.
Announcer: “And there’s the cut fastball again. Simply amazing.”
All opponents are not created equal. The Giants’ Aaron Poreda is 5-1 in nine starts, three against Yakult and Hanshin, two against DeNA and 1 against Chunichi. In calculating how tough a pitcher is against a given team, one should only count his record against OTHER teams. Thus while Poreda is 5-1, he is 1-0 against Yakult and thus his quality as concerns Yakult is 4-1. Poreda is 3-0 against Hanshin, thus his record for calculating his difficulty against the Tigers is 2-1.
In the Yakult Swallows’ first 48 games, the opposing starting pitchers they have faced have a cumulative record against other teams of 102 wins and 69 losses or a .596 winning percentage. Of course, that is not entirely an accurate picture because the Swallows are below .500 in the Central League and haven’t had to face their own starting pitching, which combined for 93-153 record’s worth of difficulty on opponents. If we factor in 1/5 of the Swallows starters cumulative .378 win pct to adjust for the fact that the Swallows don’t play against themselves. That still leaves the difficulty of opposing pitchers vs Yakult at .561, the highest in Japan.