With Hyun-jin Ryu (36) aiming to return in July, it will be interesting to see if Yusei Kikuchi (32) can hold onto the Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 5 spot.
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, highlighted Kikuchi’s performance this season on Sept. 22. In nine games (46⅓ innings) this season, Kikuchi is 5-1 with a 4.08 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
After signing a three-year, $36 million free agent contract with Toronto before last season, Kikuchi fell short of expectations in his first year, going 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 32 games (100⅔ innings). His role changed from starter to reliever midway through the season.
This year, he had a strong April, going 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts in five games (27 innings), but has faltered in May. He is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in four games (19 1/3 innings). He’s given up the fifth-most home runs (12) in the league 메이저사이트.
Kikuchi said, “I keep trying to attack the zone. Sometimes you do that and you get a home run, but I’m going to look at the data and everything and keep attacking the zone,” Kikuchi said. Aggressively attacking the zone has resulted in a noticeable drop in walks per nine innings, from 5.2 last year to 2.3 this year.
“It’s never black and white,” Toronto manager Ross Atkins said, “but I think you have to pitch with that mindset. It’s much better to be aggressive when you don’t have runners on base.” “Kikuchi is very athletic, very durable. He has the ability to improve and make adjustments.” His four-seam fastball has averaged 95.2 mph (153.2 km/h) this year. His fastball has topped out at 97 mph (156.1 km/h).
However, it’s unclear if Kikuchi will be able to hold down the No. 5 spot through the end of the season. MLB.com reports that “ace Hyun-jin Ryu could be a factor when he returns from Tommy John surgery. He’s targeting a July return, and Toronto is optimistic he’ll be throwing to hitters in June.
MLB.com, which also mentioned Rickey Tidman, who is looking to make his major league debut after recovering from a left forearm injury alongside Ryu, said, “Both players are a bit of a bright spot,” adding, “With no starters currently in Triple-A, Toronto’s starting rotation depth is tight. Kikuchi has kept the fifth starter’s spot secure, preventing Toronto from opening a door they didn’t want to open,” and praised the rotation for its performance thus far.
Toronto has used a five-man rotation this year with Kevin Gausman (10G, 63IP, 2-3, 3.14), Chris Bassett (9G, 56IP, 5-2, 3.05), Jose Berrios (9G, 52⅔IP, 3-4, 4.61), and Alec Manoa (10G, 50⅔IP, 1-4, 5.15) joining Kikuchi. As bad as Manoa and Berrios are on paper, Toronto needs to utilize them at all costs, and Kikuchi’s position is the most precarious once Hyun-Jin Ryu returns.