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 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Sep 3rd, 2023 3:00pm EDT

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Chunichi Dragons closer Raidel Martinez recorded his second consecutive 30-save season in Nippon Professional Baseball, closing out the Dragons’ win 3-0 win against the second-place Hiroshima Toyo Carp (66-53-4) in the final game of their three-game road series on Sunday. 

Martinez struck out two out of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning to record his 30th save of the season. Martinez struck out shortstop Masaya Yano as well as catcher Shogo Sakakura for the final out of the game as he became the first foreign player to achieve back-to-back 30 save seasons in Dragons’ history. Martinez is the second player in franchise history to accomplish back-to-back 30-save seasons, joining former Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase who accomplished the feat in the 2006 season. 

Martinez, 26, was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and has played in Nippon Professional Baseball for six seasons with the Chunichi Dragons. His fastball tops out at 100 mph, and he also throws a forkball reaching 93 mph with an effective low crease break to right handed hitters. 

Dragons starting pitcher Yuya Yanagi threw 6.1 innings, facing 24 batters and allowing four hits, one walk, and striking out eight. Yanagi has thrown two complete games this season and is now 4-9 in 21 starts with a 2.57 ERA this season. 

During the 2023 season, Martinez earned his second all-star selection in Nippon Professional Baseball. Martinez has pitched in 44 games, throwing 43 innings and going 3-1 while allowing 29 hits, one home run, one earned run, four walks, and striking out 58 batters with a 0.21 ERA. 

Martinez has 121 saves in seven seasons with the Dragons going 12-15, pitching in 239 games throwing 249 innings recording a 1.84 ERA allowing 171 hits, 12 home runs, 60 walks, and 290 strikeouts.   

During the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Martinez helped Cuba reach the semifinals in Miami, where they lost to the United States 14-2 at loanDepotPark. In the tournament, Martinez went 0-1 appearing in three games out of the bullpen with a 4.50 ERA, throwing four innings and allowing three hits, two earned runs, and four strikeouts. 

Martinez’s numbers have stood alone at the top of Nippon Professional Baseball and with making his first All-Star team selection last year in his sixth professional season a lot can stand alone from him to be competitive and pitch consistently at the Major League level. 

The Chunichi Dragons (46-71-3) are in last place in the Central League and will start their three-game home series back at the Nagoya Dome against the first place Central League (72-44-4) Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday at 5 a.m. EDT.

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network