NPB’s Preview, Predictions and Betting Odds for June 20's Opening Week

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NPB’s Preview, Predictions and Betting Odds for June 20's Opening Week

The NPB made its debut on Friday and it was a good one. We saw some incredible pitching duels and a game with 35 hits. You can expect the same in Saturday’s NPB slate. Here are the best bets for Saturday’s match-ups.

Yakult Swallows vs. Chunichi Dragons

Saturday, June 20, 2020 – 1:00am EST

Probable Pitchers Per NPB site:

  • Yakult: Yasuhiro Ogawa (0-0 0.00 ERA)
  • Chunichi: Kazuki Yoshimi (0-0 0.00 ERA)

After the highest-scoring game on opening day, the Chunichi Dragons escaped with a 9-7 victory over the Yakult Swallows. The Swallows were the worst team in the league last season, hitting just .244 and allowing a team ERA of 4.78.

The Dragons aren’t expected to do much better this season. They’re projected to be 5th out of six teams in the central division. Still, the Dragons hit .263 last season and had a Team ERA of 3.72.

The Dragons will send out Kazuki Yoshimi for his 15th season with the team. He’s got a career record of 89-54 and a career ERA of 2.91. He’s getting up there in age but still struck out 6.1 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.1 batters per nine innings last season. He went 10-5 on the year and finished with a 3.68 ERA for a 5th place team.

The Dragons had 18 hits in the first game of the season after Zoilo Almonte and Dayan Viciedo each added three hits on the night including two runs each.

However, the Swallows weren’t far behind, with 17 hits thanks to Tomotaka Sakaguchi, the first baseman who had three hits while former MLB player, Nori Aoki added two RBI’s along with two hits and two runs.

The Yakult Swallows will pitch Yasuhiro Ogawa. He’s been in the league since 2013 and has a career ERA of 3.51. Last season, he went 5-12 with a 4.57 ERA averaging 5.13 runs allowed per nine innings. He struck out 7.4 batters per nine innings but also walked 2.0 per nine and allowed 1.5 homers per nine innings. His WHIP has been higher recently, hitting 1.3 last season. He also allowed 9.8 hits per nine innings.


With the way the Dragons hit the ball in the first game, I’d imagine a poor outing from Ogawa.
Yoshimi allowed one run less in starts last season and has the better offense to back him up.

Chunichi Dragons(+100)
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Photo by Mark Duffel

Rakuten Eagles vs. Orix Buffaloes

Saturday, June 19, 2020 – 1:00am EST

Probable Pitchers Per NPB site:

  • Rakuten: Yuki Matsui (0-0 .00 ERA) 
  • Orix: Daiki Tajima (0-0 0.00 ERA)

In the first meeting between these two teams, the Eagles and Buffaloes were tied at one until the 8th inning. The Eagles absolutely poured it on against the Buffaloes bullpen and ended up winning 9-1.

The Eagles are projected to win the Pacific division while the Orix Buffaloes are supposed to be towards the bottom of the league. The bullpen is one of the reasons.

The Rakuten Eagles will pitch Yuki Matsui who pitched in relief last season. He threw in 68 games and had an ERA of 1.94 with a record of 2-8. Matsui started earlier in his career in 2014 but went to a relief role moving forward.

However, his stuff was so good last season that the Eagles are turning to Matsui for a bigger role. In the NPB, he’s struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings while allowing 4.4 walks per nine innings and just .4 homers per nine innings. His strikeouts and walk numbers will likely be lower now that he’s starting but Matsui clearly has put-away stuff. Last season, the Buffaloes hit just .242 with 102 homers last season.

The Buffaloes were one of the worst offensive teams in the league and had just one hit in nine innings in the first game of the series.

On the other hand, Daiki Tajima will take the mound for the Buffaloes. He went 4-7 last season in 17 games, finishing with an ERA of 3.38 in his second season in the league. He’ll start his third season in this one as a 23-year-old.

Tajima struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings last season and walked 3.3 batters per nine innings while allowing .8 homers and 8.3 hits per nine innings. While he allowed 37 runs in total, just 28 runs were earned last season. The Buffaloes were also one of the worst fielding teams in the Pacific with a fielding rate of .985.

The Buffaloes were also the only team with a losing record at home last season in the Pacific.


Matsui has all the stuff to blow by this Buffaloes’ lineup. The Buffaloes looked lost at the plate in the first game between the two teams and I wouldn’t be surprised in Matsui dominates this lineup as well.

Tajima still allowed 4.46 runs per nine innings, partly due to a bad defense behind him. Either way, Tajima doesn’t match up well against Matsui and the Eagles.

The Eagles are projected to be the best team in the league this season. They showed the potential with their offense against the bullpen. They should get the job done again in this one.

Rakuten Eagles(-140)
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Lotte Marines vs. Softbank Hawks

Saturday, June 20, 2020 – 1:00am EST

Probable Pitchers Per NPB site:

  • Lotte: Atsuki Taneichi (0-0 0.00 ERA)
  • Softbank: Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0 0.00 ERA)

The Softbank Hawks blew a 2-1 lead in the 9th inning but ended up winning in extra innings, 3-2 in any exciting pitching duel.

The Hawks will pitch Tsuyoshi Wada, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs in 2015 but didn’t make it very far. He’s now in his 13th season in the NPB and has a 3.13 ERA throughout his career in the league. He’s now 39-years-old and is not a prospect.

He started 19 games last season and went 6-6 on the year with a 3.75 ERA. He allowed 4.07 runs per nine innings. His strikeout numbers are still high at 6.8 per nine innings and he’s walking 2.1 batters per nine innings while allowing 1.9 homers per nine innings. He’ll need to keep his home run numbers down.

The Marines hit 158 home runs last season but hit just .249 in terms of average throughout the season.

In the NPB, Wada is 130-70 and has a win percentage of 65 percent throughout his career.

He’ll go up against Atsuki Tanieichi who will be pitching in his third season in the NPB. He’s a big strikeout guy but can also start to walk quite a few batters. Tanieichi went 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA last season and is 8-6 in his career in the league.

He’s just 21 years old and seems to be figuring the league out. He’s averaging 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings while walking 3.7 per nine innings. He has limited homers to .9 per nine innings in the NPB.

Softbank hit 183 homers last season so if he’s able to limit damage from the long ball, it should be a solid outing from Tanieichi.


The pitching match-up between Taniechi and Wada should be an exciting one. Wada is the old but dominant pitcher while Taniechi is the young up and comer in the league. The total was just five runs in 10 innings in the first match-up between these two teams.

I’d expect the under to hit in this one as well.

Under 8.5(-110)
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