Tag Archives: Eric Thames

NPB Wrap 4-27-21

Today’s Orix

“Rakuten didn’t catch up, Orix gave the game away. It’s like a weekly occurence, or ‘Today’s Orix.'”

–Former Rakuten Eagles manager Dave Okubo on Pro Yakyu News

Buffaloes 5, Eagles 5

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix third baseman Tatsuya Yamaashi’s defensive miss-steps—one miss-throw and one miss-step to be precise—contributed to three Buffaloes relievers allowing three ninth-inning runs to tie it

Eagles veteran Takayuki Kishi had his second straight mediocre start, allowing three runs over six innings, easily outpitched by Daiki Tajima, who gave up a run over seven while striking out seven and walking one.

Steven Moya went 3-for-4 with a double and a sixth-inning home run for Orix, while teammate Yutaro Sugimoto’s two-run eighth-inning homer made it a 5-2 game.

After a leadoff walk, Yamaashi’s wide throw on a potential double play ball pulled his teammate off the bag at second, bringing the tying run to the plate. After a walk loaded the bases, Yamaashi let another double play opportunity slip. He went to step on the bag for the force before throwing home for the tag. Unfortunately, Yamaashi neglected to step on the bag, and only managed to get the first out of the inning at home.

Daichi Suzuki followed with an RBI single and Hiroaki Shimauchi delivered a two-run double. Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui threw a scoreless ninth to lock down the tie.

Fighters 7, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Nippon Ham’s Takayuki Kato (2-0) held SoftBank to two runs over seven innings, while Mizuki Hori and Bryan Rodriguez mopped up for the last-place Fighters.

Carter Stewart Jr. entered in long relief with the Hawks losing 3-0 in the fourth and got a lot of work, allowing four runs over 2-2/3 innings in which he allowed five hits, walked two and struck out two.

The Pro Yakyu News crew was fairly annoyed by Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama using Sho Nakata in the No. 2 spot, but stopped short of calling it an insult the way Alex Ramirez’s similar use of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo two years ago was treated.

Nakata walked three times doubled and scored two runs. So there.

Lions 3, Marines 1

At MetLife Dome, Towa Uema (1-1) held Japan’s best offense to a run over five innings and Seibu’s bullpen pitched four innings of shutout ball to beat Ayumu Ishikawa (1-1) and Lotte. Ishikawa allowed five hits and a walk and threw 101 pitches in the eight-inning complete-game loss.

Cory Spangenberg was moved up to the No. 2 spot, from where he reached base twice and scored. Reed Garrett, the first of four Lions relievers, worked around a one-out single in a scoreless fifth.

Spangenberg was run out on the bases in the first, but he and leadoff man Sosuke Genda set up the Lions decisive runs in the fourth. After they reached on singles, Genda took second on a fly to the track with Spangenberg taking second, allowing both to score on a Takeya Nakamura single.

Giants 14, Swallows 11

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, with the wind blowing out, there were seven home runs, including four in a ninth inning that started 8-8 and which both teams combined to score nine runs. Yomiuri’s Zelous Wheeler, who entered as a substitute after Eric Thames’ debut was cut short by a ruptured right Achilles tendon rupture, homered to lead off the ninth against Yakult closer Taichi Ishiyama (0-1).

The win lifted the Giants back into second place and snapped Yakult’s first five-game win streak in three years.

Wheeler entered in the bottom of the third and went 4-for-4, tacking on a single in his second at-bat in the ninth inning.

Scott McGough pitched a scoreless eighth for Yakult, but Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth to earn the win, while Ryoma Nogami stopped the bleeding with three solid innings of middle relief.

Thames and Justin Smoak both made their long-awaited debuts. Smoak went 2-for-4 with a single in his first at-bat and another in Yomiuri’s two-run inning against tough middle reliever Noboru Shimizu. Thames struck out twice before injuring his right calf landing on the outfield turf on a Jose Osuna single.

It was one of two high bounces that helped keep the Swallows offense ticking along. The Swallows offense was powered mostly two homers, a single and a walk from slugger Munetaka Murakami, while Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto singled, doubled, walked, had a sacrifice fly and hit a two-run ninth-inning homer.

On Pro Yakyu News, Yutaka Takagi attributed the Swallows’ loss in the wild slug fest to a missed two-strike sacrifice in the eighth inning.

Dragons 2, Tigers 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi’s Sawamura Award winner Yudai Ono (1-2) allowed a run over eight innings to outduel Yuki Nishi (3-1). Hanshin rookie Teruaki Sato hit a massive bomb for his seventh home run, and the Tigers’ only score, in the second.

Dayan Viciedo and Akira Neo each had two hits for the Dragons to help set up their runs. Closer Raidel Martinez struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to earn his second save.

“I earned my first win this season in my fifth game, that’s a whole lot better than last year when I didn’t win until my seventh, so I’m pretty pleased,” said Ono, who earned won his seventh straight decision against Hanshin in Nagoya.

Carp 10, BayStars 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita (3-2) went 2-for-3 with a an RBI single in the Carp’s seven-run third when Shinichi Onuki (1-2) was sent packing after 2-1/3 innings.

Rookie Ryutaro Hatsuki opened the big inning with an infield single and capped the rally with a three-run triple. Morishita struck out seven, hit a batter, and allowed three hits.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Tatsuya Imai (1-2, 2.74) vs Kazuya Ojima (0-1, 4.30)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2, 1.73) vs Takahiro Norimoto (2-1, 2.81)

Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 2.55) vs Hiromi Ito (0-2, 2.77)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (1-1, 2.05) vs Yuki Takahashi (4-0, 1.29)

Dragons vs Tigers: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (2-1, 4.19) vs Koyo Aoyagi (2-1, 2.08)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-1, 3.74) vs Masaya Kyoyama (0-2, 9.00)

Active roster moves 4/27/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/7

Central League

Activated

GiantsP23Ryoma Nogami
GiantsIF10Justin Smoak
GiantsOF44Eric Thames

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF30Naoki Sato
FightersP58Masaki Tanigawa
FightersOF3Wan Po-jung 
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki

Dectivated

HawksP28Rei Takahashi
BuffaloesP52Tyler Higgins

Your new Giants

The Yomiuri Giants introduced Justin Smoak and Eric Thames on Tuesday, and we’re all pretty interested to see how they adapt to Japanese baseball.

I’m not going to try and project any numbers for them since the subtle differences hear pose different challenges to the ones they faced back home. It’s not merely a case of facing fewer MLB-caliber pitchers, but adjusting to the way they are pitched, not to mention all the cultural speed bumps that come at you.

But what if we assume these two 34-year-olds produce in Japan close to their MLB career norms? Thames had basically two MLB careers, one before he played in South Korea’s KBO, and one after. For him, we’ll use his time since he returned.

Here are the MLB slash lines I’ll use to find NPB comps:

  • Smoak: .229/.322/.419
  • Thames: .237/.339/.486

Now we find the players who played a full season in NPB from 2013, when the current ball was introduced, and 2019 whose, average, OBP and slug were similar.

What hitters had full seasons comparable to their career slash lines:

Smoak’s group is: Lastings Milledge 2013, Ryota Arai 2013, Shinnosuke Abe 2014, Hisayoshi Chono 2015, Sho Nakata 2016, Masahiro Nakatani 2017, Takayuki Kajitani 2017, Japhet Amador 2017, Zelous Wheeler 2019.

Thames’ group is: Wily Mo Pena 2014; Alfredo Despaigne 2015, 2018; Ernesto Mejia 2016; Garrett Jones 2016; Nobuhiro Matsuda 2016, 2018; Wladimir Balentien 2017; Munetaka Murakami 2019; Seiya Inoue 2019; Brandon Laird 2019.

Over 143 game seasons, their groups averaged:

  • Smoak: 125 games, 55 runs, 20 home runs, 68 RBIs and 45 walks
  • Thames: 131 games, 64 runs, 29 home runs, 81 RBIs and 57 walks

This doesn’t mean they WILL approach these numbers, but just one way of looking at one of any number of possible outcomes. All the guys in both comp groups were productive regulars, but if the Giants were expecting two 34-year-olds to come in and each hit 40 home runs over 143 games, they’re likely to be disappointed.