Yes, the Mets should cater to Kodai Senga and his improvement with extra rest between starts

Extra rest has paid off for Kodai Senga this season and the Mets should keep that in mind when building their roster.
New York Mets v Minnesota Twins
New York Mets v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

When Kodai Senga came over to the New York Mets last offseason from Japan, a big question was how he’d handle going from a six-man rotation to MLB’s five-man. Senga was used to pitching once a week with Mondays usually being a day off for teams. This gave him a full six days of rest in between starts.

He wouldn’t be so lucky with the Mets as major league teams have fewer starting pitchers and there isn’t a single day off the week where shop is always closed. The Mets have done their best with keeping Senga well-rested, often giving him an extra day or more whenever possible. The sample size isn’t large enough to determine whether or not he can handle “regular rest” because he has only made 3 starts all year with the traditional 4 days between outings.

Senga owns a 4.61 ERA in 3 starts on 4 days rest, a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts with 5 days of rest, and a 2.34 ERA with 6 or more days between starts in 8 tries. How far should the Mets go to cater to his needs?

The NY Mets need to remain well-equipped to cater to Kodai Senga’s needs

Signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto this offseason would give the team yet another pitcher who could have similar splits as Senga. Having two guys on your roster familiar with this amount of rest furthers this need to consider a six-man rotation or at least have some bullets when there aren’t enough off-days in between.

It’ll be incredibly difficult to have a competent six-man rotation for the full season because it does mean carrying one less position player or arm in your bullpen. A team can only go so long shuttling pitchers back and forth from the majors to the minors. Moreover, how good are those players even going to be? The six-man rotation works best when the entire team is on board and capable. This means no wasted roster spots, lots of optional relievers, and starting pitchers who can go a little deeper.

The Mets already have some bodies to help

The Mets do appear capable of putting out an additional starter as needed. If David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Joey Lucchesi remain with the organization, at least one would be a sixth starter if not better. We can toss Jose Butto into the mix as well. Mike Vasil is yet another spot starter candidate.

It’s the in-between when things get more difficult. A returning veteran like Jose Quintana could certainly benefit from more rest. It might even lengthen how many innings he can go whenever his turn comes around. All of this can work well except the talent is lacking.

The Mets will need far more than just Yamamoto to fill out the rotation. Adding an innings eater like Aaron Nola is a good start. A foursome of Yamamoto, Senga, Quintana, and Nola looks pretty solid compared to the rest of the league. Now all they’d need is for one of those others from the group to pitch effectively and they have at least five capable starters in a faux six-man rotation.

Does Kodai Senga really need the extra rest?

The one blip for Senga’s season in a start on short rest came when the Toronto Blue Jays scored 4 runs against him in 2.2 innings of work on June 4. He pitched well later in the month on the same amount of rest when he struck out 8 Milwaukee Brewers in 5 innings during a no-decision. His other outing on 4 days rest was a victory over the Chicago Cubs when he lasted 6 frames and allowed 2 earned runs.

Two out of three ain’t bad for Senga to show he can be effective without the extra. It still wouldn’t be a bad idea to continue holding him back. As long as it’s not at the expense of other pitchers, the Mets should see how they can make this work.