‘Should Ryu Hyun-jin be nervous… ‘46.5 billion won Japanese pitcher KKKKKKKKK → ERA 1.00 ‘transformation of the bone’
Yusei Kikuchi (32, Toronto Blue Jays) has completely transformed. On the 24th (hereinafter Korean time), he started the 2023 major league away demonstration game against the Minnesota Twins held at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida, USA, and gave up no runs with 3 hits, 9 strikeouts, and 1 walk in 5 innings. 2 wins (1 loss) in exhibition matches. 안전놀이터
Kikuchi’s midterm performance in demonstration games is 2 wins and 1 loss with an ERA of 1.00 in 6 games. He is 2 runs on 9 hits, 25 strikeouts and 10 walks in 18 innings. 0.148 batting average and 1.06 WHIP. He walks quite a bit, but strikes out a lot, and his crisis management skills are outstanding. On this day, he successfully built up to 5 innings and 88 pitches for the first time in the demonstration game.
Kikuchi signed a three-year, $36 million contract in the 2021-2022 free agent market. However, he went around 32 in the 2022 season and was sluggish with 6 wins and 7 losses with an ERA of 5.19. His starts were only 20. That’s because midway through the season he was demoted to the bullpen. He had a solid fastball in the mid-90s, but had extreme command fluctuations across the board.
However, he raises expectations for the season with stable pitching in this year’s demonstration game. Manager John Schneider told MLB.com, “Kikuchi is doing really well. I think you see him being consistent in his own strike zone. I have a lot of trust in him now.”
Kikuchi is likely to start this season with the fifth starter behind Alec Manoa, Kevin Gaussman, Jose Berrios and Chris Bassett. 5-starting contender Mitch White has shoulder issues. Even if it’s not that, it’s not strange to get a spot in the starting lineup if you look at the performance of the demonstration game.
However, Kikuchi is considered a candidate to be pushed back to the bullpen when Ryu Hyun-jin returns in July. However, if the consistency of the demonstration game can be maintained throughout the first half, there is no reason to give up his seat even after Ryu Hyun-jin returns. Ryu Hyun-jin’s physical condition this year is also uncertain, and the moves of other Toronto starting pitchers have not been clearly calculated.
“Kikuchi improved his arm swing in the offseason,” Schneider said. He thinks the key was to get the ball into the strike zone a little longer. His pitching was great.” Maybe Ryu Hyun-jin, who is preparing for a comeback, should be nervous.