The New York Mets have brought in some exciting starting pitchers this offseason. Justin Verlander is the most notable of the bunch, coming off of an AL Cy Young award, and Jose Quintana had a strong year split between Pittsburgh and St. Louis, but Kodai Senga is another flamethrower with high expectations.
Senga pitched in 23 games in the NPB last year. He tossed 148 innings and allowed just 104 hits, 31 earned runs, 50 walks, and struck out 159 batters. His ERA was 1.89, his WHIP was 1.04, his K/BB was better than 3:1.
Even with his massive success in Japan, Kodai Senga has to adjust to a new ball, the five-man rotation, and American culture. That’s a lot, so it would behoove Mets fans to be patient with him.
Mets pitcher Kodai Senga could take some time to adjust
I’m not saying that he won’t be successful this year. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I think he’s a Rookie of the Year contender. There are just several changes that he has to adjust to all at once, so there may be some bumps in the road.
For starters, the NPB uses a six-man rotation, while MLB only uses five. Senga will have to get used to pitching more often, but thankfully the Mets have good depth, so they can get spot starts from David Peterson or Tylor Megill as Senga gets used to the new schedule.
There’s also the different baseball. The MLB ball is bigger and harder to grip than the smaller, tackier ball used in Japan. He may have to adjust his pitch grips or release point slightly to get the same movement from this ball that he had in Japan.
He also has to get used to a new country and culture. Senga will have to get used to pitching in different time zones, depending on where the Mets are playing, which is new for him since all of Japan is in one time zone. He’ll also have to get used to new foods, the language barrier (although I’m sure there will be a translator available to him, which will help), and being away from his family and friends.
Senga will have every opportunity to be successful in 2023. He recently announced that he will skip the World Baseball Classic in an effort to get acclimated with the Mets organization in Spring Training. While it would be cool to see him pitching on that stage, it’s great that he is taking the opportunity to develop relationships with his new teammates and coaches before the season gets underway.