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Shunsuke Watanabe

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Shunsuke Watanabe
(Shun-chan, Pokki, Hone, Sub-Marine)

BR Minors page

[edit] Biographical Information

Shunsuke Watanabe is known as "Sub-Marine" among English-language fans of Nippon Pro Baseball due to his submarine delivery and his playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Watanabe first appeared on a prominent stage in the 2000 Olympics, where he beat Italy but then lost to Cuba. Drafted in the 4th round in 2000 by Chiba Lotte, Watanabe was 2-2, 2.66 in 13 games for the Marines in 2001. In 2002, Shunsuke was 0-3 and his ERA rose to 6.35. He apparently spent most of the year in ni-gun (the minors). The next year, at age 26, he improved to 9-4, 3.66 but struggled when he aimed for more heat. Advised by Kimiyasu Kudoh and Tomohiro Kuroki to develop an alternate approach, Watanabe relied mostly on sinkers, slow curve balls and sliders. Watanabe was 12-6 in 2004 with a 3.59 ERA. He was fifth in the Pacific League in ERA, third in wins behind Hisashi Iwakuma and Satoru Kanemura and made his first All-Star team. Shun-chan improved in 2005 to 15-4 with a 2.17 ERA as he again was an All-Star. His ERA was second to Toshiya Sugiuchi, he was fourth in the PL in wins and part of a 3-way tie for the league lead in shutouts (3), including a one-hitter on March 27. He pitched a 4-hit shutout in his only start in the 2005 Japan Series. In an exhibition against a Major League Baseball All-Star team, Watanabe allowed three runs in five innings on six hits. Picked to play in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Shunsuke was 0-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two starts for the champion Japanese club.

2006 was not a good year for the Sub-Marine as he fell drastically to 5-11, 4.35, dropping 7 of his last 8 decisions. He tied for third in the league in losses and led in batters hit (14). In 2007, he bounced back to 9-6, 2.44; right-handed batters only hit .200 against him. He walked just 34 in 177 innings. He finished 4th in the PL in ERA behind Yoshihisa Naruse, Yu Darvish and Ryan Glynn, was 6th in innings, 3rd in complete games (8) and tied for 4th in shutout (2).

Watanabe slumped back in 2008 to 13-8, 4.17. He allowed a .291 average and walked only 29 in 172 2/3 IP. He tied Naoyuki Shimizu for 4th in the league in wins, tied Masahiro Tanaka for 6th in innings and led in most earned runs allowed (80), hit batsmen (13) and hits allowed (195). He tossed two scoreless innings for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic to help his team win their second straight Classic.

On December 17, 2013, the now 37-year-old Watanabe signed a free agent minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox, joining a team that had had great success with fellow Japanese relievers in recent years, particularly Junichi Tanzawa and Koji Uehara.

Principal Source: Japanbaseballdaily by Gary Garland

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