The last place team has the best closer.
The Nippon Professional Baseball Junichi Dragons are in last place in the Central League and have the lowest winning percentage among the 12 teams in both leagues. Through 26 days, they’re 16-28 in 44 games, with a winning percentage of 3.66. Three other teams – Yakult Swallows, Rakuten Eagles and Junichi – have a win percentage below three.
Junichi, who finished fifth in 2021, appointed ‘legend’ Kazuyoshi Tatsunami to replace Tsuyoshi Yoda as head coach. They dropped to the bottom of the table under the new coach. After going 4-6 with a winning percentage last year, he’s even worse this year. They have the same solid pitching staff as last season, but a weak batting line-up has them hovering around the bottom of the table.
Ironically, the tailgate of the weakest team is guarded by its best closer. Cuban right-hander Raidel Martinez, 27, is the man.먹튀검증
On the 26th, against the Yokohama BayStars at the Anbang Nagoya Dome. Coming on as the fourth pitcher in the top of the ninth inning, Martinez struck out the opposing clean-up trio to preserve a 1-0 victory. Yokohama is the top team in the Central League in team batting average (2-for-6).
He retired leadoff batter Toshiro Miyazaki on a swinging strikeout and got Shugo Maki on a pitcher’s choice in the fourth. He then struck out #5 Neftali Soto on a wild pitch to end the game.
The ninth pitch he threw in the first inning against Soto touched 161 kilometres per hour. It was his 12th strikeout of the season on 10 pitches.
eve of the season on 10 pitches. Takaya Ishikawa’s one-run homer in the bottom of the fourth was the game-winner and Junichi’s only run.
Junichi has continued his dominant pitching this year. In 16 appearances, he has a 1-0 record with 12 saves and a 0.00 ERA. In his 15th inning, he gave up two runs, both unearned. He walked one and struck out 23.
His near-perfect performance prompted one side to summon Hitoki Iwase, Junichi’s “legendary” closer. It’s a tribute to Martinez as the greatest closer of all time. No stranger to Korean baseball fans, Iwase holds the Nippon Professional Baseball record for saves with 407.
He leads the Central League in saves and is second in both leagues in that category. Naoya Masuda of the Pacific League’s Chiba Lotte Marines leads the Pacific League with 13 saves and a 1.08 ERA. Chiba Lotte leads the Pacific League. If Junichi were playing well, she would have even more saves than she has.
Junichi joined Nippon Professional Baseball in 2018, his sixth year in the league. Each year he has improved. He had 21 saves in 2020, 23 saves in 2021, and 39 saves (0.97 ERA) last year. Last season, he won the league’s saves title for the first time.
Martinez is a member of the Cuban team for the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). He was unfazed when his Junichi teammate, Yariel Rodriguez, chose to defect to the United States after the tournament instead of returning to the team.
Martinez has 103 career saves (9-15, 28 holds, 2.04 ERA) through 26 games against Yokohama.