“Rookie of the Year? I can compete for CY”…’Ghost Fork’ Senga’s spectacular ML debut leaves its mark on NYM history
Kodai Senga (New York Mets) has gotten the Major League Baseball start of his dreams, becoming just the fourth Japanese player in history to do so.
Senga started the second game of the 2023 Major League Baseball doubleheader against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field in Perth Amboy, N.Y., on Aug. 28, throwing 96 pitches in five innings, allowing three hits (two home runs), three walks, eight strikeouts and two runs (two earned).
Senga had always expressed his desire to play in the major leagues during his time with the SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball. However, he was unable to fulfill his dream of making it to the big leagues because SoftBank did not allow him to be posted. Then Senga came up with a “trick”. In Japan, players are eligible for overseas free agency one year after becoming a domestic free agent, and he included an “opt-out” clause in his contract extension with SoftBank.
Senga will finally be eligible for overseas free agency after the 2022 season, and the opt-out clause allows him to leave SoftBank. Determined to make it to the major leagues, Senga signed a five-year, $75 million contract prior to this season. He had a great debut season, putting up some of the best numbers of the year, and while it’s unclear if he’ll be named Rookie of the Year, it’s not out of the question.
After showing promise in three exhibition games, going 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA, Senga earned a spot in the Mets’ starting rotation and went 3-1 with a 4.15 ERA in five starts in April. Senga’s trademark “forkball” with a huge drop was nicknamed the “Ghost Fork” by fans and media around the league. Senga built on his good momentum in April and began to show more stability in May, going 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA.
Senga went 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in June, then cruised to a 1-0 record with a 1.93 ERA in July and a 3-2 record with a 3.16 ERA in August as he watched key players, including Cy Young Award duo Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, leave the team at the trade deadline. And while he didn’t get the win in the final game of the season, he ended the year with a performance that will go down in history as a Japanese major leaguer.
The pitching was perfect, except for the home run. It didn’t start well. Senga opened the game by giving up a “leadoff home run” in the first inning when a four-pitch forkball he threw to leadoff hitter John Bertie sailed into the middle of the strike zone. But it didn’t take him long to settle down. Senga “KKK’d” the Miami lineup of Jesus Sanchez-Garrett Hampson-Jacob Starlings in the second inning, then cruised through the third with two more strikeouts.
The second disappointment came in the fourth inning. After getting Jazz Chizom Jr. to fly out to center field and Brian De La Cruz to fly out to shortstop, Senga was hit by a high fastball to the body by Sanchez, the next batter, for his second homer of the day. Senga took the mound again in the fifth inning and got out of the jam by striking out Jake Berger with runners on first and second, ending his final outing of the season with a five-inning, two-run “no-decision.
While the lack of wins is a definite disappointment, the pitching to end the season was certainly powerful. According to Japan’s Junichi Sports and Yomiuri Shimbun, Senga’s eight strikeouts on the day gave him 202 for the season, just the fourth player in history to reach 200 strikeouts in his first season in the majors, the 13th Mets player in history to reach 200 strikeouts, and the 31st rookie in franchise history, joining Dwight Gooden.
Prior to Senga, only three other players had surpassed 200 strikeouts in their first year in the majors: Hideo Nomo (236K in 1995), Daisuke Matsuzaka (201K in 2007), and Darvish Yu (221K in 2012). With 202 strikeouts, Senga passed Matsuzaka for third place on the list of most strikeouts by a Japanese pitcher in his first season, and his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second behind Hideo Nomo.
Senga had pitched 161 1/3 innings prior to this game, and after adding five more innings today, he reached 166 1/3 innings, making him the fifth Japanese major leaguer in seven years to do so, joining Hideo Nomo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Darvish Yu, and Genta Maeda (2016).먹튀검증
The New York Post wrote, “The Mets’ final two months of the season were largely meaningless. But they weren’t completely meaningless. Amid the disappointment, Senga lived up to expectations and then some.” “In a rotation dominated by Scherzer and Verlander, Senga was the ace. Senga will be in contention for not only Rookie of the Year, but also the Cy Young.”
Senga finished the year with a 12-7 record with 202 strikeouts and a 2.98 ERA in 166 1/3 innings pitched in 29 games, ranking second in the National League in ERA, tied for 11th in wins, and tied for seventh in strikeouts through 28 games. With Corbin Carroll (Arizona Diamondbacks) currently the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, it remains to be seen if Senga can make an upset.
Article courtesy of MyDaily