The New York Mets had done a great job this offseason trying to replace several players who left the team in free agency. This is due to Steve Cohen's willingness to exceed the highest levels of luxury tax penalties to offer his fans a competitive team on the field.
However, this 2023 roster comes with many question marks and injury risks ranging from older players to injury-prone. In this sense, there is a much greater concern for a Mets pitcher, whose losing to an injury would hurt the hopes of competing for the title in 2023.
Losing Kodai Senga to injury for an extended period would be a disaster for the mets
When the New York Mets signed Kodai Senga to a five-year and $75 MM contract on December 17, 2022, they knew what they were getting, a high-risk but high-reward pitcher. A right-handed pitcher for Japan who has a career 2.44 ERA with 1,486 strikeouts in 1,340.2 innings pitched, with a power fastball and a signature "Ghost" forkball/splitter that has made him an elite-level pitcher with ace stuff.
Rising Apple's Nick Prasad has analyzed Senga’s profile with a great scouting report so we are not going to go into details of his pitching metrics but into the injury risk that comes with him. To do this, two relevant factors must be considered; his injury history and the management of pitching rotations in Japan.
But of all the injuries, the one that should worry us the most is his elbow. Last year he missed a few starts in May and then in June with a stiff right elbow. Tying this back to the shoulder injuries earlier in his career and looking at the type of spin motion on his pitches, the elbow could be something to watch in 2023.
The other aspect is how the pitching rotation in Japan, where Senga played for 11 years, is managed. In the Nippon Professional Baseball League, teams use a 6-man pitching rotation, causing starters to pitch once a week. However, managers pressure starters to stay in games longer than managers in MLB, so the number of innings by a pitcher in Japan tends to be fewer.
To the latter, we must add that Senga started as a reliever in the Japanese league and after becoming a starter he hasn't thrown more than 150 innings since 2019 when he posted the maximum innings pitched with 180.1. So, pushing Senga to pitch more innings in 2023 and given his history of elbow-to-shoulder injuries could cause missing time that limits his outings in MLB.
The Mets need to be careful with Senga, as losing a starter of his caliber is hard enough to replace during the year despite the team's internal options. Undoubtedly, Kodai Senga is a player who comes to the team with great potential but due to what we have highlighted in this article, his health history raises concerns that an injury could considerably affect the team's performance next season.