It’s a nasty nine.
Yusei Kikuchi, 32, of the Toronto Blue Jays, made his sixth start in seven games and failed to pick up another win. Kikuchi fell to 6-9 on the season after giving up six runs on five hits (two home runs) with three walks and two strikeouts in five innings against the Texas Rangers on Thursday (July 14) at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Kikuchi is in the second season of a three-year, $36 million contract. He debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 2019, but never won 10 games or had an ERA under three. Last year, he went 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 32 games and was benched midseason.
I don’t have high hopes for this season either. There was a lot of speculation that Hyun-jin Ryu’s midseason return would result in another loss of the starting job, but with Alec Manoa struggling mightily, Kikuchi’s importance grew. First and foremost, Kikuchi looked much different than in previous years. He started mixing his high fastball with his curveball.
On August 3 against the Baltimore Orioles, he pitched six innings of six-hit ball with three strikeouts and one walk to earn his ninth win of the season. But he didn’t win another game for seven straight. In the seven games leading up to the Texas game on Sept. 14, he had a 4.23 ERA with 18 earned runs in 38.1 innings. He was especially bad in September, going 2-2 with a 5.52 ERA in three starts.
Kikuchi also has a fastball that sits around 95 mph. However, he has balanced his pitches this season, and his off-speed pitches have become more effective, reducing his fastball. He even threw an 81.2-mph (131-kilometer) curveball to leadoff hitter Ivan Carter in the fifth inning. It wasn’t in the high 60s like Ryu’s, but the occasional 80 mph curveball was certainly potent.메이저놀이터
Texas hitters weren’t so easily fooled by Kikuchi’s slower pitches on this day, however, as he tried a slider, which he dropped low and away from Nathaniel Lowe in the fourth inning for a three-run double. In the fifth, he gave up an 84 mph curveball to Robbie Grossman for a two-run shot to left-center. He now has 26 home runs this season. That’s more than last year’s 23.
In the end, Toronto dropped the first three games of a four-game home stand against Texas to clinch the series. The Jays have now dropped to fourth place in the American League wild-card race, 2-3 behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. We’re two games behind Texas and one game behind Seattle. They still have a chance to turn things around, but this was a devastating loss for both Kikuchi and Toronto.
Kikuchi will now be given two to three starts. While 10 wins is still mathematically possible, he’ll be very disappointed if he finishes the season at nine wins. The loss was also very painful.