It sure has been a dry stretch in the NPB baseball season. Having played just one game in the past week, the Tigers must be feeling quite antsy to get the playoff schedule started! We fans feel the same way, too, no doubt. As we wait for the playoffs to start this coming weekend, here’s what you need to know about the schedule, as well as player news…
The first rounds will take place at Koshien Stadium (CL) and MetLife Dome (PL) on Saturday 10/14 (2:00 pm), Sunday 10/15 (2:00 pm) and Monday 10/16 (6:00 pm — if necessary). Tuesday 10/17 is the rain date. H-TEN will be back later in the week with a proper playoff preview post, and you can check out Graveyard Baseball, where no doubt they will put up a preview of the PL series.
The CL and PL final rounds will take place at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (CL) and Yafuoku! Dome (PL) from October 18 until 23, with the Hiroshima Carp and SoftBank Hawks holding a one-game advantage in a best-of-seven series.
Here are some quick headlines out of the local sports pages for you. Links to articles are boldfaced, but they are all in Japanese.
Shintaro Fujinami will not be in the starting rotation during the playoffs. He will instead pitch in the Phoenix League, an 18-game exhibition schedule down in Miyazaki Prefecture, which is used for player development.
Speaking of the Phoenix League, games start on October 9 and run through the end of the month. Atsushi Nohmi will likely start in that first game to tune up for the Climax Series, for which he is rumored to be the Game 1 starter. According to manager Tomoaki Kanemoto, this year’s Phoenix League will be “several times harsher” than last year’s.
Catcher Seishiro Sakamoto (oblique) and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka (pinched nerve) are hoping to be back in time for the playoffs. Both have been taking batting practice and feel as though they will be healthy enough to play.
First baseman Fumihito Haraguchi is also hoping to use the upcoming days to make a case for his inclusion on the playoff roster. The team does not have a wealth of right-handed pinch hit options, so perhaps this is his chance.
Rookie shortstop Kento Itohara has also been rehabbing hard to get back in time for the playoffs. He went 1-1 with 2 RBIs and a walk during an exhibition game earlier in the week, and says he feels great.