Why Kodai Senga's Mets spring debut was encouraging and relieving

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Kodai Senga made his first spring start for the New York Mets on Sunday, and it’s fair to say that fans should be encouraged and relieved about his performance.

Senga pitched two innings, gave up just one hit and one run, with two strikeouts and two walks against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida on Sunday, and finished better than he started.

Mets pitcher Kodai Senga started out nervous, but then his nasty ghost fork took over, reminding fans of the excitement behind his signing.

Senga started out firing fastballs in the 96 to 98 mph range, but rather erratic, as he walked the first two batters he faced and fell behind reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt 3-0. But he started throwing strikes and got himself out of the inning by retiring Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and stud outfield prospect Jordan Walker.

Then he retired three of the four batter he faced in the second inning, giving up just a home run to Tres Barrera.

We got to see the ghost fork in action for the first time this spring and it looks to be an unhittable pitch as advertised, which is a big boost for the Mets. If the Mets are going to win the World Series, they’re not only going to need someone to step up in case Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander go down to injuries, but someone to change games with key pitches. Senga will do that with his ghost fork and that incredible vertical break of 40 inches it has.

Senga also showed the variations of his pitch locations and velocities alongside his fastball. His ghost fork splitter came in at 83 mph, and one of the two he threw on Sunday struck out Jordan Walker in the first inning. In terms of the other pitches, his cutter averaged 90 mph, his slider averaged 83, while his curveball came in around 80 mph.

Once Senga and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner figure out the command issues (he threw just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes on Sunday), he will turn to be a dominant starter that can be a frontline ace, and the Mets need him to be given the lack of major league ready pitching talent in the farm system.

But Sunday was an encouraging day not just because the Mets won, but Senga turned in a successful debut and fans should be relieved that he did.

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