Mets Monday Morning GM: Mid-term Kodai Senga free agent signing grade after 15 starts

Jun 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) reacts
Jun 28, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) reacts / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The number 15 is pretty important for Kodai Senga. He’s making $15 million this year. In fact, his salary each season with the New York Mets whether he opts out after 2025 or not is for $15 million with a few incentives along the way for top 5 finishes in the Cy Young.

Through 15 starts, Senga has gone 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA. The theme for him has been pretty much what we expected. He’s wild. He’s also deceptive. His last five starts average out well with one short outing of 2.2 innings and 3 earned runs against him with a 7-inning performance the next day and only a single unearned run.

The last three starts have been Mets losses with his 3.53 ERA after a June 17 start not changing at all with two more since. Consistency hasn’t been a huge part of his game this year but maybe that’s changing. Looking at the season as a whole, what kind of grade shall we give Senga through 15 starts?

The NY Mets free agent signing of Kodai Senga deserves an A-

Lenient? Senga is probably going to lead the National League in walks and wild pitches. He has trouble throwing on traditional MLB rest. Senga is literally best friends with off-days and spot starters.

An A- grade might seem like a kind gesture. Let’s consider that he has outpitched a lot of players with a similar or better AAV. He has faults but it’s not something holding him back fully. Senga is one true box of chocolates. Following seven innings of one-hit ball against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 30, his next outing included only 2.2 frames and a 5-walk performance versus the Toronto Blue Jays on June 4.

As if we weren’t confused enough already, Senga beat the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 7-inning performance of only 96 pitches.

Senga’s contract isn’t burdensome and his performance has been superior to the one game over .500 record he owns. He has been a hard-luck loser in some of his more recent appearances. Often an out away from a quality start or one run too many allowed to qualify for one, Senga has been the number three pitcher the Mets were hoping to have behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

The success from Senga hasn’t been a major story this year because of all that has gone wrong for the Mets. He’s not perfect and he hasn’t really overachieved. He’s very much in the Rookie of the Year conversation yet nowhere near being one of baseball’s best. Only because he hasn’t surpassed the higher expectations does this free agent signing get a minus tacked onto it.