Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (32, Toronto), who is entering his 5th season in the Major League (MLB), is expected to start the season in the starting rotation again this year. But the problem is that it’s not because of skill.
On the 13th (Korean time), MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, predicted a 26-man roster for the opening game of the 2023 season of the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto opens the season on March 31 with an opener against St. Louis.
Toronto, which is evaluated as one of the winners of this year’s Stove League, is recognized as the best in the league, especially in terms of starting pitchers. The four starters are very solid, starting with Alec Manoa (25) and Kevin Gausman (32), Jose Berrios (29), and Chris Bassett (34), who was recruited this winter.
The problem is the 5 selection. Ryu Hyun-jin (36), who was the ace of the team in 2020 and 2021, is difficult to return until this summer due to Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament joint surgery). Because of this, two players are competing for the vacant seat. They are Kikuchi and right-hander Mitch White (29).
Kikuchi, who signed a three-year, $36 million contract with Toronto early last year, went 6-7 with one save and an ERA of 5.19. The walk rate, which was 3.6 per 9 innings in 2021, rose to 5.2 last season. Eventually, at the end of the season, he was eliminated from the rotation and went down to the bullpen. 먹튀검증
White isn’t great either. After moving to Toronto at the trade deadline last year, he only had 5 losses and an ERA of 7.74 without a win in 10 games (8 starts). However, during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers before the transfer, he showed hope in that his earned run average was 3.70 in 15 games (10 starts).
MLB.com projected Kikuchi as the fifth starting pitcher. The media said, “Unless another starter joins Toronto, the competition for the 5th starter will be the number one issue for the pitching staff.”
What was the reason for choosing Kikuchi as the 5th starter? The media evaluated, “For now, there is an advantage because Kikuchi’s contract size is large.” This is because Kikuchi is a pitcher with an annual salary of over 10 million dollars, while White is not yet qualified for salary adjustment.
Most major league teams give higher-paying players more or first chances. This is because he has to pay for what he has paid a high price for. Toronto’s competition for the 5th starter also went back to Kikuchi’s dominance because of this. However, if Hyun-Jin Ryu, one of the top earners in the team ($20 million) returns, Kikuchi is likely to be eliminated from the starting lineup similarly.