Kenji Otonari

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Kenji Otonari
Kenji Otonari 2011.jpg
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks – No. 28
Born: (1984-11-19) November 19, 1984 (age 29)
Kyoto, Japan
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Professional debut
June 9, 2007 for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks

Kenji Otonari (大隣 憲司 Ōtonari Kenji?, born November 19, 1984 in Kyoto, Japan) is a Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball pitcher for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan's Pacific League.

Otonari was drafted in 2007 and made his first starts late in the year as the Hawks prepared for the playoffs. His first start was an Interleague start against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and he went seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out four. He would be credited with the win, but could not duplicate his success as he gave up 3 runs or more in 5 of his next 7 starts.

In his first full season in 2008, the young lefty had a successful season. The first two starts he made, Ohtonari notched complete game victories, also only giving up one run in 18 innings while recording 18 strikeouts. Despite losing the next two starts, Ohtonari still threw 8 innings in each start. The rest of the season was a roller-coaster ride, as his success seemed to hinge on how many batters he struck out. Late in the season, he suffered an elbow injury that prematurely ended his season. Still, Ohtonari finished with a respectable 11-8 with a 3.12 ERA, spinning six complete games in 21 starts, striking out 138 batters in 155 and 2/3 innings.

The elbow injury seemed to linger with Ohtonari in 2009, as he was slow to start and did not have a quality start until May 6. He was demoted to ni-gun in early June and did not return until later in the month. In September, Ohtonari was sent to the bullpen and after five appearances there, he seemed to respond at the end of the month, recording two consecutive quality starts. However, he was sent back to the bullpen for the playoffs, where his Hawks were knocked out in the first round.

The 2010 season was also rough for Ohtonari, but mostly because in 13 of his 19 starts, the Hawks offense scored three runs or less in games that he started. He was doing very well in his lone playoff start, throwing five shutout innings, but he was lifted to go to the bullpen in a game the Hawks lost en route to a heartbreaking series loss that left them one game from the Japan Series.

Pitching Style[edit]

A left-handed junkballer, Ohtonari generally throws his fastball in mid to high-80s, but has shown that he can get strikeouts with his breaking pitches, very similar to former teammate Toshiya Sugiuchi. However, Ohtonari does not have the same caliber of control that Sugiuchi does, and thus is prone to walks. The statistics on Ohtonari show that the more strikeouts that he gets, the better his start seems to go. Ohtonari throws a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, and forkball.

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