That’s great confidence. Chiba Lotte head coach Masato Yoshii, who served as pitching coach for the Japanese WBC (World Baseball Classic) national team, expressed his opinion that if the team advances to the semifinals, NPB pitchers, not major leaguers, will be selected as starting pitchers. At the same time as testing the power of Japanese baseball, he has a will to show it to baseball fans around the world.
Coach Yoshii appeared on a radio broadcast of TBS in Japan on the 22nd and explained the idea of running the WBC pitching team. With the premise that “I have to talk to coach Hideki Kuriyama,” he said that he was drawing some of the starting rotation for the tournament. The plan is to leave the quarterfinals to Shohei Ohtani 스포츠토토 (Angels) and Yu Darvish (San Diego), and the semifinals to Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix) and Rocky Sasaki (Chiba Lotte).
The pitch limit for this WBC is the same as in the 2017 tournament. In the group stage of the first round, only 65 pitches can be thrown. The second round, which is a tournament, is limited to 80 pitches, and the semifinals and finals are limited to 95 pitches. In addition to Ohtani, Darvish, Yamamoto, and Sasaki in the first round, Shousei Dogo (Yomiuri) and Shota Imana (DeNA) are expected to serve as the second starting pitchers.
Looking at the strength of the 5 countries in Group B, Japan is very likely to advance to the second round. Instead, as the tournament started from the second round, the variables became bigger than before. Japan has been eliminated at the start of the semifinal tournaments in both recent WBC events. The same thing could happen this time in the quarterfinals. To prevent this from happening, coach Yoshii plans to use Ohtani and Darvish for the quarterfinals.
Next up are Yamamoto and Sasaki, the ‘Made in Japan’ starting pitchers. Director Yoshii went further and drew attention with his bold statement, “I think the world will want to see Yamamoto and Sasaki.” He said, “I think the world and Japanese baseball fans are curious about what kind of pitch Yamamoto or Sasaki will play against the United States or the Dominican Republic.”
According to Japan’s Daily Sports, coach Yoshii also said on the 23rd, “I want to see Yamamoto and Sasaki throw at opponents around the world, and on stages in other countries. It’s good to let the world know that there is.”