Why not Darvish, Japan’s final starter who broke expectations…”I don’t even know the bullpen”

The Japanese baseball team, which advanced to the finals of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) with a thrilling come-from-behind victory, pulled out an unexpected selection card in the final game against the United States. 

On the 21st (hereinafter Korean time), Japan won a 6-5 victory over Mexico in the 2023 WBC semi-finals held at Londipor Park in Miami, Florida, USA. In the ninth inning, trailing by 4-5, Munetaka Murikami hit the center fence from 1st and 2nd base and scored a two-run double to end the game, creating a dramatic drama. 

Before the afterglow is gone, Japan will play the long-awaited final against the United States at the same place on the 22nd. Initially, it was expected that the national team’s oldest and major leaguer, Yu Darvish (37, San Diego, San Diego), would start, but Japan’s choice was left-hander Imana Shota (30, Yokohama DeNA Baystars). Japanese national team coach Hideki Kuriyama announced Imanaga as the starter in an official interview after the victory over Mexico.

Imanaga threw all two WBC matches as a relief. On the 10th, he made his first mound as the second pitcher in the Group B Korea match in the first round held at Tokyo Dome in Japan. Following starter Darvish at the time바카라사이트, he came out from the 4th inning and played a good fight with 3 hits (1 home run) and 1 run in 3 innings, breaking Korea’s will to pursue. He hit a solo home run in the 6th inning off Park Kun-woo, but with a fastball of 96.2 mph (154.8 km), a sharp slider, and a splitter, he led Korean hitters to no swings. 

Then, on the 16th at the Tokyo Dome, against Italy in the quarterfinals, he appeared as the third pitcher in the 6th inning and blocked it with a perfect score of 1 inning, 2 strikeouts and no runs. After taking 5 days off, he will go to the final selection. After debuting in his team DeNA in 2016, he has been active as a starter for 7 years and has sufficient ability to throw long.

He is regarded as a talented left-hander in Japan to the extent that he played a no-hitter game against the Nippon Ham Fighters on June 7 last year. He’s a good enough pitcher to start in the finals, but it’s curious that he’s not Darvish.

First of all, Darvish’s performance in the WBC was not good. Although he became the winning pitcher in the first round match against Korea, he struggled with 3 hits (1 home run), 1 walk, 1 strikeout and 3 runs (2 earned) in 3 innings, and he saved the match against Italy in the quarterfinals in the 7th inning with 2 hits (1 home run) and 1 strikeout in 2 innings. 1 lost He struggled with an ERA of 5.40 in two games, hitting home runs to Yang Eui-ji in the Korea match and Dominic Fletcher in the Italy match.

Since it is rich in big game experience and it is the last final, the possibility of Darvish’s bullpen mound is expected. However, according to Japanese media such as ‘Sports Hochi’, Darvish said, “Honestly, I have no idea whether to wait for the bullpen for the final. can’t tell here He expressed an ambiguous position, saying, “It seems to be different depending on the development of the game. This is in contrast to Shohei Ohtani, who has a double batting job, who showed his will to stand by the bullpen, saying, “I will pour everything in.” 

It is also raised that Darvish’s team, the San Diego Padres, may have entered ‘management’. According to ‘The Athletic’ on the 17th, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “I am concerned about Darvish’s condition. He was more so after watching the relief appearance against Italy. He doesn’t want to overwhelm him. It is not an ideal situation because he does not know when he will return.” Whatever the exact reason, Japan’s decision not to use Darvish for the finals will be met with mixed reviews depending on the outcome.


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