Has Kodai Senga met our realistic expectations?
When the New York Mets signed Japanese star pitcher Kodai Senga this past winter there were sky-high expectations placed upon him before he even took the mound. The 30-year-old Senga was one of Japan's most accomplished starting pitchers over the last decade and he inked a 5-year $75 million contract with the Mets to slide behind aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in the starting rotation.
As we approach Memorial Day it has been a bit of an up-and-down ride for Senga to this point as he adjusts to Major League Baseball. Senga has not been bad by any stretch, but with the number of injuries the Mets have faced in their starting rotation early on in the season, he was being leaned on heavily as the anchor of the rotation and his performance was under a microscope by fans.
Kodai Senga's performance has been examined closely by Mets fans through the first 2 months of the season
Manager Buck Showalter is also keeping Senga comfortable by utilizing him every 6th day, similar to how he was used in Japan, and the results have allowed Senga to get settled in early and not be overworked early on in the season. The front office and fans alike know Senga's performance and availability will mean more in September and October than in April and May, which is why I believe as everybody gets healthy around him expectations should subside a bit over the next couple of months.
However, Senga has shown just how electric he can be as evidenced by his most recent start at Citi Field where he allowed 1 run over 6 innings and struck out 12 batters against the hot-hitting Tampa Bay Rays. We have seen glimpses of Senga's potential throughout the season, but it seemed like it all came together for Senga in that game, leaving Mets fans' jaws on the floor with how he was dealing on the mound.
Senga can't really be fairly judged on his performance until at least the end of next season to justify whether the deal was worth it in the long run for the Mets. But as of right now, I believe Kodai Senga has performed as well as he could have under the circumstances he has been under while acclimating to a new team, new country, and new baseball league.