Kodai Senga is having an ace-like season and has the numbers to prove it

Los Angeles Angels v New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The New York Mets may have led the mid-season house cleaning with the starting rotation, but they were aware enough to retain the clear future arm of the organization. During a semi-downfall of a season, it seems the attention has been geared more towards the mishappens on not enough on the remaining assets.

The Mets expensive international right-hander Kodai Senga has displayed his worth throughout a grueling season and is reminding baseball followers in Queens that his presence in the rotation is important moving forward. A majority of his presence on the mound berthed great confidence in the team’s ability to pull off victories based on the hopeful offense on paper. Even when the offense seemed to be at a temporary stand-still, Senga brought a sound showcase in his innings of work, keeping strong lineups off-balance and guessing.

Although there was more anticipation than concern about Senga coming over to New York, there are still pondering questions and concerns about his long-term performance. The great New York legend Jay Z once rapped the phrase “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t”; and Senga’s numbers are testifying under strong oath.

Mets RHP Kodai Senga’s metrics and statistics paints him to be the future Mets ace

To clear the air with the critics and concerns, Senga’s command has improved from his time in Japan to present day in Major League Baseball. Scouts and baseball writers voice their concern for his “inability” to command and throw strikes. Although we don’t have the tallied strike-to-ball season ratio to date, Senga’s day-to-day numbers are consistent and are a good testimony of his command ability. In his past four starts, Senga has recorded a 52% first-pitch strike rate, throwing 53 strikes to 101 batters faced. Can this be better? Definitely! however, a pitcher of his caliber with a diverse range of pitch options may choose to toy with their counts after the second time through the lineup. In those four starts, he recorded a 61% pitches thrown-to-strike rate. Further to that, he has a zone contact percentage of 82% on the year.

His improved command and his six-pitch repertoire resulted in 176 strikeouts for Senga this season with only 66 walks in 143.1 innings pitched. He’s 10-7 so far this season with a 28.1% chase rate. He’s forced a 45.6% ground ball rate and a 23.2% fly ball rate with a 5.9%-barrel percentage. These percentages may be unique and partially relative to the pitch for him to be ace status, however he’s performing similarly to other aces around the league. Senga is having a similar year to Seattle Mariners right-hander Luis Castillo. Castillo has an 11-7 record with a 3.01 ERA; he has 181 strikeouts with 38 walks in 164.1 innings pitched with a 9.9%-barrel percentage. 

This comparison at the naked eye shows both pitchers' elite level and that Senga’s profile is comparable to an ace helping his team towards a postseason run.  His pitch arsenal, pitch usage, execution, and numerical evidence prove he has what it takes to be an ace in the future years for the New York Mets.