Robbie Ray (32‧ Seattle) grew up being evaluated as a real one from childhood. He came alive with a strong fastball in the mid and high 90s with powerful movement. Even when batters spin the bat as hard as they can, the ball often skims over the bat or is already sucked into the catcher’s mitt.
Perhaps a better strategy for batters would have been to hope that Ray would collapse on his own. This is because he too often became a ball if he did not bat. Ray was a pitcher with 12 strikeouts per nine innings from 2018 to 2020. However, he also gave up 5.1 walks. He reached a whopping 9 walks per 9 innings in 2020, his last season in an Arizona uniform. He was the player with the most free runs in the league.
However, Toronto held Ray’s hand, and he signed a one-year contract ahead of the 2021 season. Many looked suspicious, but Toronto seemed to have a solution of its own. Pete Walker’s pitching coach and power analysis part began to fix Ray’s pitching balance. And something magical happened.
Ray had just 2.4 walks per nine innings in 2021. His performance followed as he dramatically reduced his walks while maintaining his strong strikeout ability. Ray pitched 193⅓ innings in 32 games on the season and went 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA, winning the American League Cy Young Award. He had 248 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.84 both leading the league.
When Ray signed a five-year, $115 million contract with Seattle after the 2021 season and left the team, Toronto wandered the market to find a “second Ray.” In the process, it may have been fate to sign a contract with a player reminiscent of Ray’s old days. It was Yusei Kikuchi (32), a lefty from Japan. He was the same age, had the same throwing arm, and had a powerful pitch, but they were very much alike in terms of control.
Kikuchi struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings last year. His powerful pitch was undisputed. He threw a fastball in the mid/high 90s as a lefty. However, he collapsed on Jefull as he gave up 5.2 walks. He went 6-7 with a 5.19 earned run average in 32 games (20 starts). The three-year, $36 million contract was in danger of failing. However, ahead of this season, he met with the Toronto coaching staff again, and the number of walks decreased significantly as the pitching balance was adjusted. It’s not as strong as Ray, but the course is similar.
Kikuchi, who won his fifth win of the season by pitching 6⅓ scoreless innings against Pittsburgh at PNC Park on the 8th (Korean time), reduced the number of walks per 9 innings to 1.91 this year. Usually, when this number falls below 2, it is the best performance in the league, but Kikuchi, whose walks were a problem last year, is doing it. The decrease of 3.3 levels is the largest among players who have played more than 5 starts this season.바카라사이트
Of course, he doesn’t have the command of Greg Maddox. There are still balls flying. However, there is a tendency to boldly play fastballs at unfavorable counts, and with good pitches, this strategy works and more innings are being digested. It is also interesting to see that the rate of abandoning the cutter and pitching the slider to the border line has increased. Now, Kikuchi is no longer a pitcher who frequently allows free on-base.
The average ERA recorded in seven games so far is 3.35. Although the batting average (.257) was higher than last year (.243), the number of on-base per inning (WHIP) improved (1.50 → 1.19). There are also problems that the batted ball speed has increased and the percentage of fly balls has increased due to aggressive pitching, but so far the advantages have offset the disadvantages. His ERA of 3.35 is better than any other player in the powerful Toronto rotation.