Building for the future the Mariners have added one of the better pitchers to make the jump from Japan to the U.S., Yusei Kikuchi. The left-hander spent his career thus far with the Seibu Lions. Yusei Kikuchi does come in with a bit of an injury history. Kikuchi missed the entire 2013 season because of shoulder issues. He missed most of the 2016 season because of the same issue.
During the 2017 campaign, he roared back, posting career bests of 187 2/3 innings, 1.97 ERA, and leaving many batters standing at the plate in disbelief at what they witnessed. Kikuchi’s fastball hangs out around 94-95 and peaks out at about 98 on occasion. His main out pitch is a nasty slider that runs hard away from lefties and plays mind games with righties. The man also paints the corners like Bob Ross paints trees.
For his career, he has a 2.77 ERA to go with a 73-46 win/loss record, and 903 strikeouts in eight seasons in Japan. There were a lot of suitors for the lefty specialist. In the end, he decided to come to Seattle for a fully guaranteed four-year, $56 million deal. Many sites have him projecting as being at the top of the Mariners rotation. Some others have him slotting in as low as third with Marco Gonzalez as the number one starter.
The rotation is going to be interesting coming out of out of Spring Training. I do think Kikuchi is going to be the “Opening Day” starter against the A’s in the Japan series. If he pitches well in that game we could very well see him take the mound on March 28th against the Red Sox as the rest of the Major League Baseball season gets going.
We have to wait and see how spring training progresses with Kikuchi and if his history of shoulder issues flairs up. With this organization, everything is a wait and see. And that is exactly what we’re going to do.