Finally up and running.

Chiba Lotte Marines’ “monster pitcher” Roki Sasaki (21) will make his first start in 27 days. He will start the first game of the Climax Series First Stage (best-of-two) against the SoftBank Hawks on Thursday at Chiba Marine Stadium. It will be his first start since Sept. 17 against the Seibu Lions.

Sasaki was removed from the game against Seibu on Sept. 17 after throwing 70 pitches in the third inning. He gave up three runs on four hits and four walks. It was his second start since returning from a left oblique injury. He previously allowed one run in three innings against the Orix Buffaloes on Sept. 10. He has lost two straight starts since returning from injury.

He was scheduled to start against SoftBank on Sept. 24, but the start was canceled due to COVID-19. Finished the regular season with a 7-4 record and a 1.78 ERA in 15 games.

Two injuries limited him to 91 innings, well below the required 143. He finished fourth in strikeouts after leading the league in that category with 135.

Sasaki was sidelined for three weeks in May with a blistered finger. In July, he was sidelined for nearly two months with side pain. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft made his debut in 2021 and hasn’t pitched a complete game in three seasons. 메이저놀이터

Lotte manager Masato Chiba, 58, said second-year high school catcher Ko Matsukawa, 19, will start in a battery with Sasaki.

The Sasaki-Matsukawa battery achieved the youngest perfect game against the Orix on April 10 last year at Marine Stadium. This was done so that Sasaki could throw in a good mood. Yoshii said, “I want the younger players to experience a game like this.” It’s been six months since they played together since April 6 against the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Chiba Lotte swept the Rakuten Eagles 5-0 in the regular season finale on April 10. They won the final game to knock out SoftBank and finish the season in second place.