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Burning questions - Canberra
Three burning questions for the Cavalry in 2018/19
10/30/2018 1:54 AM ET

Canberra fell a win short of claiming the Claxton Shield for the second time last season and enter 2018/2019 with a new manager and redeveloped ballpark.

Here are three burning questions for the Cavalry ahead of the ABL season getting underway:


1. How will the rotation go without Brian Grening?

Brian Grening has been Canberra's game one starter for the majority of the past six seasons.

But he will no longer be on the mound, taking up a coaching role with the Cavs after retiring following last season.

It is a big loss for the Canberra starting rotation, which alongside Brisbane was one of the best in the ABL last season.

Grening went 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 starts last season and tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a game one ABLCS victory over Brisbane.

But plenty of talent remains.

Frank Gailey returns and looms as the new number one for Canberra's rotation.

The left-hander led the league with an ERA of 1.80 last season, restricting opposition hitters to a .155 average.

Yokohama DeNA BayStars left-hander Shota Imanaga will also link up with the Cavs between round two to seven.

Imanaga struggled during the 2018 NPB season, going 4-11 with a 6.80 ERA.

But the Japanese national team pitcher was 11-7 with a ERA of 2.98 in 2017.

Steven Kent should retain his role in the rotation while returning Steven Chambers is another option for new manager Keith Ward.


2. What impact will their early-season travel schedule have?

The Cavs have to wait until the fourth weekend of the season for their home opener.

They will host Brisbane at their redeveloped Narrabundah home in an ABL Championship Series rematch from December 6-9.

But before then Canberra must navigate a tricky 12-game road trip, which includes trips to Melbourne, Sydney and across the Tasman to Auckland.

The Cavs finished 2017/18 with the third-best road record in the ABL, going 10-9 during the regular season, and collected series wins in both Melbourne and Sydney.

So they will be confident of coming out of the challenging stretch with a winning record.

Canberra will become the fourth team to start an ABL season with an eight-game or longer stretch on the road.

The three teams before them have all made the playoffs, including Adelaide (1-7 start) in 2015 and Melbourne (2-6) in 2010.

With 16 of their final 20 games at home, every road win in the opening three weeks will be a bonus.


3. Will the BayStars' prospects deliver in Canberra?

Yokohama DeNA BayStars will send four players - three pitchers and an outfielder - to Canberra throughout the ABL season.

Imanaga is the pick of the bunch and despite a rough 2018 NPB campaign has an impressive resume.

In 69 games for the BayStars he holds a 3.84 ERA and has 356 strikeouts.

Right-handed relievers Yuki Kuniyoshi and Tomoya Mikami will bolster the Cavs' bullpen.

Kuniyoshi - who will join Canberra for the full season - has played 125 NPB games across an eight-year career with the BayStars.

The 27-year-old compiled a 4.86 ERA across 13 games during the 2018 season.

Mikama, 29, will link up with the Cavs from rounds three to 10 after recording a 3.05 ERA in 65 games this season.

Canberra has also acquired the services of 21-year-old outfielder Koki Aoyagi.

Aoyagi spent 2018 playing with the BayStars' Farm League team, hitting .213 with 10 RBIs in 78 appearances.


What are your burning questions for the Cavs?


This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.