The Rotation is Set! Tigers Open with Tough Righty Messenger
Open with “Messeh”! Reports on October 5th indicate that the Tigers will start Randy Messenger (33) on October 11 in the first game of their Climax Series matchup with Hiroshima. Typhoon 18 has delayed the final game of the season which will determine where the playoff series will be held – Koshien or Mazda Stadium – so we will not know until the 6th. Tigers management is already looking ahead to the Final Stage against the Giants (starting on the 15th at Tokyo Dome) and decided to put their hopes in the tough righty.
The original plan – start Messenger if at home, Nohmi if on the road – has been adjusted. No matter where the games are, we go with Messenger – it’s been decided. “Regardless of where it’s played, Game 1 is what it is.”
As players ended their designated practice, pitching coach Nakanishi made it clear. Since they don’t announce starters in advance, he did not give specific names, but instead said they will not change their starting pitchers’ order based on where the series is played.
In 4 games against the Carp this season, Messenger has gone 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA. At Koshien, he won both his starts, going 16 innings and allowing no runs. On the other hand, at Mazda Stadium, he lost both starts and compiled an ERA of 8.10. Because of the discrepancy between those numbers, management had initially toyed with the idea of starting Nohmi if the series were to be played in Hiroshima, but…
On this day (October 5), Typhoon 18 meant the Hiroshima-Giants game was postponed. The Tigers’ first squad was also slated to fly to Miyazaki for “Phoenix League” games scheduled to help them prepare for the postseason. That was also delayed. Since the hands of time cannot also be put on hold, the team slotted Messenger in the opener.
Messenger took today completely off. He will train hard at Koshien on the 6th, then head off to Miyazaki. On the 7th they play against DeNA, and both he and Nohmi are scheduled to pitch 3 innings each, then Messenger will go against the Carp on 3 days’ rest. Not only is it advantageous to use him on short rest now, but should the team advance, they face the Giants, against whom Messenger is 4-1 in 8 starts this season. Messenger would then be the core member of the starting rotation, possibly starting twice against the Giants.
Messenger will start the opener of the Climax Series, with Nohmi pitching the second game. Should a third game be needed, Fujinami will get the start. Last season, Fujinami started the first game, Messenger the second, and the team was ousted in two straight. They were unable to advance to the Final Stage.
With 13 wins (against 10 losses), Messenger tied for the league lead in wins. He also took the strikeout title. The upcoming series is a short one, and wins are a must. The Tigers are prepared to let their primary breadwinner do what he’s been doing best all season.