Why the Mets must sign Yusei Kikuchi

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The New York Mets are a team that has struggled with injuries for years, particularly in the starting rotation. While all teams deal with the injury bug, it seems that the Mets always have just a few more than the average team, and many of them are to key pitchers.

With a dominant duo atop the rotation of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, as well as two high upside starters in Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, the Mets have a super talented starting rotation. However, their rotation needs to be capped off with a left-hander who can be relied upon for at least 25 starts, and the best option for that on the market is Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners, who was an All-Star for the first time last year.

Kikuchi has a high floor, which is exactly what the Mets need

The top four starters on the Mets all have extremely high upside, however all have dealt with injuries over the past couple of years. Jacob deGrom missed time last year with elbow soreness, as well as forearm tightness, and while Max Scherzer was known for being a workhorse for years, he hasn't thrown 200 innings since 2018. And as for their other two starters, Taijuan Walker only pitched a total of 67.1 innings over his last three years due to injury prior to joining the Mets last year, while Carrasco didn't make his first start with the Mets until July 30, after he tore his hamstring in Spring Training.

With an injury-prone rotation in place, the Mets need to add a starter that they can rely upon to throw around 160 innings, and provide stability to a potentially potent rotation, that will likely see several of their starters miss time due to injuries. Yusei Kikuchi can definitely be that guy, as he has been in the league since 2019, and tallied 161.2 innings pitched in 2019, and 157 innings pitched this year, according to Baseball-Reference. The outlier in 2020, was no blame of Kikuchi's as the season was shortened to 60 games as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding Kikuchi will fill out the rotation for the Mets while turning the current competition for the fifth rotation slot into much-needed depth. The combination of Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Jordan Yamamoto, Trevor Williams, and Joey Luchessi will provide the Mets with very strong starting rotation depth, with the possibility of any of them slotting into the bullpen in a long-relief role. Meanwhile the others figure to start the season in AAA, so that they are already stretched out and ready to slot into the rotation when an injury inevitably occurs

Kikuchi adds a left-handed arm to a right-handed heavy Mets rotation

The top four starters in the Mets rotation are all right-handed, and of the five options currently in-house competing for the fifth spot, only David Peterson is left-handed. And if that's not enough proof that they need left-handed pitching, look no further than the bullpen, which lost their left-handed option from last season, Aaron Loup, and has yet to replace him.

This team is in desperate need of some left-handed pitching help, and Kikuchi would provide that. While flashier left-handers such as Clayton Kershaw or Carlos Rodon are still sitting on the Free Agent market, Kikuchi is a better fit in New York due to the injury concerns those two have. Not to mention those players will likely command a much higher salary due to top-end potential, while Kikuchi should come on the cheaper side.

The Mets don't need another starter with high end potential, instead they need a reliable starter who will go out there and pitch every five days, just like they had for years with Bartolo Colon. The fact that Kikuchi provides that, while also being left handed, and coming at a cheaper price than the other available option, makes him a perfect fit to round out the Mets rotation

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