Shocking regression. At the rate Yusei Kikuchi, 32, of the Toronto Blue Jays is going, he could be unseated by Hyun-jin Ryu after the All-Star break.
Kikuchi started a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on 16 June (ET) and allowed two runs on six hits (one home run) in 4⅔ innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Kikuchi was criticised for tinkering with his pitching mechanics before the season. After a strong start to the season, he went 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA, a .240 batting average, and a 1.11 WHIP in five games in April. As his trademark wide delivery narrowed, he began to harness the power of his fastball.
However, Kikuchi faltered in May. In six starts in May, he went 2-2 with a 5.83 ERA, a .298 batting average, and a 1.67 WHIP. In three of those games, he didn’t last five innings, and in two, he only went five innings. His only quality start came in the first inning. His strikeouts increased slightly again, leading to a lack of control and fewer innings pitched.
Kikuchi hasn’t allowed a run in three games in June. He has a 3.68 ERA in three starts, including today’s win over Baltimore, with a .237 batting average and a 1.23 WHIP, which is actually better than May. However, he’s still striking out a lot, and he’s given up four home runs. In May, he had nine home runs. He has a bad habit of hitting long balls up the middle when he gets more pitches. 메이저사이트
Kikuchi worked out of a jam in the first before giving up a walk to Anthony Santander and a wild pitch before giving up a 97-mph fastball to Gunner Henderson for a single to left. In the second, he gave up back-to-back stolen bases to Jorge Mateo and a walk to Ryan McKenna. In the third, he struggled with his slider and curveball, giving up back-to-back singles to Adley Rutchman and Henderson. In the fifth, he gave up a 95-mph fastball up the middle to Lurchman for a tying solo shot. An error two batters later and he was unable to get out of the fifth. Barely got out of the fifth inning unscathed.
In 14 games, he’s 6-2 with a 4.31 ERA. It’s not a bad run, but it’s hard to see him picking up where he left off in April. For now, Toronto hasn’t really filled the void left by Alex Manoa, who was sent down to the minors.
Trevor Richards has made one start, but it was out of the bullpen. He started against the Minnesota Twins on the 11th, but only lasted three innings. He needs time to warm up before throwing long innings, and Toronto’s starting staff didn’t have that luxury. He had only had three days’ rest since his bullpen appearance against the Houston Astros on the 7th. There was no immediate decision on who would start against the Texas Rangers on the 18th.
There is some local talk of trading for a pitcher to fill in at the back of the rotation until Hyun-jin Ryu returns, but if that doesn’t happen, Kikuchi will have to make his own adjustments. If he doesn’t rebound in the second half, he could be forced to make way for Ryu in the second half. Given the return of Ryu and the fact that Manoa is also a pitcher who should be back in the big leagues, there’s no reason to believe Kikuchi won’t fall out of the starting lineup again like he did last year.