This article is part of our DFS NPB series.
Tuesday's NPB slate was generally a low-scoring one, with all but one team scoring five or fewer runs, though the Golden Eagles apparently missed the memo, exploding for 15 runs against the Marines, accounting for 39.5 percent of the total runs scored on the day. Stacks were available up and down their lineup, with four separate players recording a combined five runs plus RBI. Elsewhere, Kazuma Okamoto joined the league leaders with his fifth homer of the season as his Giants defeated the BayStars by a score of 5-2. Quality pitching performances weren't hard to come by, with Matt Moore leading the way with 10 strikeouts in six innings while allowing just one run against the Fighters. Yuya Yanagi was quite strong as well, striking out seven Tigers in seven scoreless innings. Teams across the league will turn to another set of backend starters Wednesday, so we may see a few more high-scoring contests on this slate.
Kris Johnson ($9,200) was listed in this space yesterday before his game against the Swallows got rained out. His price has somehow risen by $700 despite not playing a game, but he remains an interesting option despite that modest bump, provided rain doesn't wash away his start again. The 35-year-old has remained a quality arm in the later stages of his career, cruising to a 2.59 ERA last season, a near match for his career 2.56 mark at the start of his sixth NPB campaign.
Takumi Akiyama ($6,300) opened the season with a strong start, striking out three and walking none in six scoreless innings against the Swallows. That low-strikeout, low-walk outing is what we should expect in most of Akiyama's starts, as he owns a mediocre 18.2 percent career strikeout rate but an excellent 4.6 percent career walk rate. Ordinarily, I'd prefer a high-strikeout, high-walk arm, but Akiyama nevertheless looks like great value for his very low price, even if a lack of whiffs caps his upside. He may be hard-pressed to come away with a win, as his Tigers have scored a miserable 1.9 runs per game this season, but he's a good bet for at least a quality start against a Dragons team that sits 10th out of 12 in scoring.
Shuta Ishikawa ($7,500) had a rather poor season debut against the Lions, allowing six runs in 3.2 innings. That's particularly worrisome due to the fact that he missed most of last season due to elbow problems, but he was back on the mound as the Hawks won their third straight Japan Series, so it seems safe to write off his season debut as merely one poor start for now. He's a good bet for a bounceback performance against a Fighters team which sits tied for eighth in runs per game. Ishikawa is a very capable starter when healthy, as he owns a career 3.60 ERA and a 20.3 percent strikeout rate in 232.1 NPB innings, making him an interesting and cheap flyer here.
Hotaka Yamakawa ($8,700) went hitless for just the second time this season Tuesday, but he's still hitting an excellent .290/.452/.774 even after that poor showing. He's tied with four other players for the league lead with five homers and sits second with 13 RBI. He's also tied for second with nine walks, as pitchers clearly want no part of a player who's hit 90 homers over the last two seasons. He'll have a good shot to hit another against Buffaloes righty Kohei Suzuki, who owns a 4.79 ERA in 112.2 career innings.
While Kris Johnson did earn a mention above, Tetsuto Yamada ($7,500) has been so good this season that he's virtually matchup-proof and is worthy of consideration in any lineup which doesn't include Johnson. Yamada has been one of the best all-around players in the NPB for several years, posting four 30-homer seasons, four 30-steal seasons and clearing the .300 mark four times. He'll have a shot to hit all of those marks this year if his early performance is any indication, as he's hitting .286 with four homers and three steals.
Shota Dobayashi ($4,100) doesn't come with much of a track record, as he's a 28-year-old with a career .239/.310/.360 slash line, but it's hard to ignore what he's done so far this season. Understandably given that history, he hasn't been an everyday player and has hit in the bottom third of the order, but he's hitting an excellent .414/.433/.690 with a pair of homers and seven runs scored through seven games. He'll almost certainly fall off soon, but at his price, it's worth taking a shot to see if he can remain hot for at least one more game.
Ryoya Kurihara ($3,900) had done very little in very limited playing time prior to this season, but he's established himself atop the three-time defending-champion Hawks' order through 10 games. With a .333/.404/.524 slash line, he doesn't look likely to move off the role any time soon. He could be part of a strong showing from the Hawks in this one against Nick Martinez, whose solid 3.51 ERA last season came with a rather intimidating 13.6 percent strikeout rate.
Stacks To Consider
Plenty of pitchers look rather exploitable on this slate, meaning plenty of lineups look like strong stack candidates. We may as well kick things off with the team that leads the league in scoring, the Golden Eagles, who sit at 6.9 runs per game after exploding for 15 runs in the series opener Tuesday. In Ojima, they'll face a 23-year-old lefty who's made just 11 career appearances. His season debut against the Buffaloes wasn't particularly good, as he allowed four runs in five innings, bringing his career ERA up to an unimpressive 4.55.
Cleanup hitter Asamura has been on a roll to start the season, hitting .400/.478/.825 over his first 10 games. His homer Tuesday, part of a day in which he scored three times and drove in a pair of runs, was his fourth of the season, one shy of the league lead, while his 15 RBI are two more than anyone else in the league. His hot start shouldn't come as too big a surprise, as he's a career .285 hitter and is coming off back-to-back 30-homer campaigns.
Romero bats out of the sixth spot, but he's nevertheless worth a look Wednesday, as he's been every bit as good as Asamura this season. Through 10 games, he's hitting a remarkable .444/.545/.889. His lineup position means he's only driven in seven runs, compared to 15 for Asamura, though it's not as if that's a poor number. Romero is coming off a season in which he hit .305 with 18 homers in just 81 games, so his hot start shouldn't be too surprising, either.
Blash hasn't gotten off to the same start as his teammates listed above, but he's scored eight times and driven in eight runs through 10 games while hitting a respectable .235/.386/.382. He had quite a strong season in his NPB debut last year, hitting .261/.397/.540 with 33 homers even while striking out 157 times, the second-highest mark (behind only his teammate Asamura) in the entire Pacific League. Strikeouts sunk his brief MLB career, but he seems to have enough in his bat to succeed in Japan, making him a strong mid-priced option here.
Sticking with the theme of stacking the top lineups in a day with an abundance of pitchers worth stacking against, it makes sense to also recommend the top lineup in the Central League. The Giants occupy that spot, sitting second overall in scoring at 5.9 runs per game. They'll face 21-year-old lefty Sakurai in his season debut. He's only thrown 16.2 career innings, and they were far from noteworthy, as he struggled to a 4.86 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. His 23.0 percent strikeout rate hinted at some promise, but it came with a 13.5 percent walk rate.
Okamoto has been among the best hitters in the entire league this season, hitting .475/.523/.925 through 10 games. His home run Tuesday was his fifth of the year, tying him for the league lead, while he sits third with 12 RBI. The 24-year-old has averaged 32 homers and 97 RBI over the last two seasons, his first two full NPB campaigns, as he seems to be well on his way to a similar campaign batting out of the cleanup spot for one of the best lineups in the league.
In contrast to some of the other names listed in this piece, Sakamoto's early numbers don't leap off the page, though there's nothing wrong with his .289/.372/.474 slash line. Stronger performances can be expected in the future for the reigning Central League MVP, though, as he's coming off a season in which he hit .312/.396/.575 with 40 homers. He's currently priced a small step down from the league's top few bats, but his track record and matchup suggest he'll be a steal Wednesday.
Yoh hasn't been an everyday player or the Giants, though if he keeps up his current level of performance, he'll be one soon. In seven games, he's hitting .348/.375/.522. The 33-year-old has fallen off a bit from his peak, when he hit .293 with 25 homers back in 2014, but he was a productive enough bat in a part-time role last season, hitting .274/.346/.380. He's not a star, but he should be good value for his price if he bats fifth or sixth, as he did last weekend, and should help keep this stack an affordable one.