This article is part of our Dream11 Fantasy NPB series.
Tokyo Yakult Swallows (25-32-5) at Hanshin Tigers (30-29-3)
Thursday, September 3rd, 5:00 AM EDT
Hanshin Tigers: RHP Koyo Aoyagi (6-3, 3.30 ERA)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows: RHP Ren Kazahari (0-0, 5.63 ERA)
The Tigers are on a remarkable rise in the standings and, even though they were dead last in the Central League a few weeks ago, now they have risen to second place with a 30-29-3 record following three wins in their last five games. The Swallows, on the other hand, have won two of their last three but are in last place of the standings – they sit four games behind the Tigers and 11.5 games away from the first-placed team, the Yomiuri Giants. With that in mind, the Tigers seem to have all the momentum ahead of this contest. The Tigers also have the edge in the pitching matchup, as Koyo Aoyagi's ERA is more than two points better than Ren Kazahari's.
Kyuji Fujikawa - Out - Upper Body
8/14 1:23 AM IST - The Tigers deactivated Fujikawa on Thursday, citing an upper-body injury, Jim Allen of JBallAllen.com reports. Fujikawa previously missed time in July with a right shoulder injury, so it's possible the reliever is dealing with a related setback. The 40-year-old was lights out at the back of the Hanshin bullpen in 2019, but he's struggled mightily so far this season, posting a 7.20 ERA and 10:9 K:BB in 10 innings while converting only two saves.