New York Mets: Kodai Senga displays upside in solid first start

kodai senga, mets
Mar 5, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Although it is just Spring Training, one of the New York Mets‘ big-ticket free agent signings this offseason, Kodai Senga, made his Mets debut yesterday. Senga’s first start was certainly not perfect. He did, however, show exactly why he has so much promise.

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Reviewing Kodai Senga’s first start with the New York Mets:

Senga got the win in yesterday’s game. He went two innings, throwing 42 pitches (27 in the first inning). Senga allowed two walks and one run on a homer. He did record two strikeouts though.

In the first inning, Senga did allow two runners to get on with walks. Control was an issue to begin the game as he threw five strikes in his first 16 pitches. It is fair to anticipate that he had some nerves in his first exposure to Major League hitting, however. He wrapped up the first inning with this strikeout, showcasing his specialty “ghost fork” pitch.

The second inning started with two outs for Senga. With two outs, though, he allowed a solo home run. He displayed some resiliency as right after allowing the homer, Senga recorded his second strikeout, this time, with gas, as his fastball hit 98 MPH.

Overall, it was a solid debut for Senga. There will certainly be an adjustment for him, and this experience in Spring Training should only help. Also, we got to see what makes him such an exciting pitcher.

Of the 42 pitches that Senga threw, he got 17 swings, four of which were misses (24% whiff rate). He threw his 4-seam fastball 23 times, sweeper 10, six cutters, and his hallmark forkball three times.

On average, Senga’s 4-seam fastball velocity was 97 MPH in yesterday’s debut start. His slowest 4-seam was 94.6 MPH. Senga’s fastest 4-seam was 98.6 MPH. He also threw over 98 MPH two other times (98.3 and 98.1 MPH). He did only get one whiff on 10 swings of his 4-seam.

When it came to his off-speed stuff, in particular, with his dominant forkball, of the three times he threw it, Senga got one swing, which was his first strikeout. The average speed of his forkball yesterday was 82.7 MPH.

After the game, Senga met with the media. He stated the following on his first start.

“Obviously they have a very good lineup and before I got up there I was very excited to face those guys, but once I was up there my mind was filled with the pitch clock and I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.”

Perhaps, getting himself acclimated to the pitch clock explains why Senga got off to a bit of a tough start in the first inning. Nonetheless, it was encouraging to see him overcome the two first-inning walks and prove his talent, whether it be with his over 98 MPH heat or overbearing forkball. Senga is obviously an integral asset to this Mets rotation as the third starter. He has all of the potential and, with more reps, should continue to keep improving.