What it really looks like.메이저놀이터
Yusei Kikuchi (32, Toronto Blue Jays) had a rough first season of his three-year, $36 million contract. He was dropped from the starting rotation midseason after struggling with command issues throughout the season. In 2022, he went 4-7 with a 5.25 ERA in 20 starts and 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 12 appearances out of the bullpen.
He wasn’t even selected for Japan’s WBC team, despite not being sick. Instead, Kikuchi worked on his balance and looked much different in the exhibition games. He went 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA in seven games. In April, he was just as good, going 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five games. With the ups and downs of the starting pitching staff, Kikuchi was the de facto ace.
However, things changed in May. Kikuchi went 2-2 in six games in May. He struggled with a 5.83 ERA. In June, he went 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA in five games. His luck didn’t improve. July was his worst start. One loss in two games with an ERA of 8.68.On July 2, he was shaky against the Boston Red Sox, allowing five runs on seven hits and seven walks with two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings, then collapsed in the second game of a road doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts in five innings. In the third inning, he gave up consecutive singles to Sevy Zavala, Andrew Benintendi and Tim Anderson. He dropped a curveball well outside the zone to Eloy Jimenez for a two-run double.
Kikuchi followed that up in the fifth with a changeup to Zavala that was driven up the middle for a double to left. He gave up a 94-mph high fastball to Benintendi for a bunt single. He got Anderson to pop out to shortstop for the second out of the inning.Toronto’s starting rotation is most stable at this point with ace Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios. The duo is finally starting to prove why the team invested in them. On the flip side, Kikuchi and transfer Chris Bassett are shaky. The returning Alec Manoa is hard to calculate. In the end, one of Kikuchi, Bassett, or Manoa will have to make way when Ryu returns later this month.
Kikuchi’s extreme ups and downs have left the bench unreliable. While he hasn’t fallen apart like he did in May, he hasn’t had a great start to July. There’s no way he won’t be relegated to the bullpen midseason like he was last year.