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Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Expected to have rotation spot
Kikuchi is slated to open the season in the Blue Jays' starting rotation, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports.
Kikuchi enjoyed his best start of the Grapefruit League schedule Thursday against the Twins, striking out nine batters over five scoreless innings. That put him at 25 strikeouts through 18 innings this spring, though he has also issued 10 walks. It's difficult to expect much consistency from the 31-year-old left-hander leading into the 2023 campaign after his rough showing in 2022, which saw him finish with a 5.19 ERA. Mitch White (shoulder) could eventually be an option to unseat him in that No. 5 spot in the rotation.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Struggles to find plate Friday
Kikuchi gave up two runs on one hit and three walks over 3.1 innings in Friday's split-squad game against the Phillies. He struck out three.
The southpaw got stretched out to 76 pitches, but only 46 of them went for strikes. Kikuchi looked good early in camp but his control has begun to desert him again with Opening Day growing closer, and he now has a 16:9 K:BB through 13 spring innings despite a superficially strong 1.38 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. The 31-year-old has a career 5.02 ERA and 3.67 BB/9 since coming to MLB in 2019, and there's been no real sign this spring he's going to be any more reliable in 2023.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Control wavers Sunday
Kikuchi allowed four hits and three walks over 2.2 scoreless innings while striking out four in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies.
The southpaw ended up throwing 61 pitches (38 strikes) to get just eight outs, even if four of them did come via strikeout. Kikuchi remains the favorite to break camp with the No. 5 spot in the Blue Jays' rotation, and while he has yet to allow a run through four spring starts, his 13:6 K:BB in 9.2 innings is a reminder of both his tantalizing upside, and his erratic career in MLB to date.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Another sharp outing
Kikuchi walked one and struck out two over two scoreless, no-hit innings in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Orioles.
The southpaw has gotten his spring off to a quick start as he looks to secure the fifth starter role for the Blue Jays, tossing four scoreless innings in two starts with seven strikeouts and only one free pass. Kikuchi has struggled during his four years in MLB after a strong career in Japan, but he still has quality stuff and Toronto believes he can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Robbie Ray as a successful reclamation project for pitching coach Pete Walker.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Might benefit from pitch clock
Kikuchi seemed more focused on the mound during his spring debut Saturday against the Pirates, a change that may have been prompted by MLB's new pitch clock, Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic reports.
The 31-year-old left-hander has had a very up-and-down MLB career so far, posting an ERA under 5.00 only once in four seasons, but Kikuchi's arm talent has never been in question. Being forced to work more quickly could prove to be a boon for him, as he won't be able to overthink things and will simply have to get the ball to the plate. "I think the clock is going to help him with the way he worked," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Saturday. "The tempo was fabulous." Kikuchi worked two scoreless innings against Pittsburgh, giving up one hit and striking out five, and if he continues to impress in camp he should emerge as the favorite for the fifth starter spot ahead of Mitch White (shoulder).... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Feeling healthy, confident
Kikuchi told Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker that "it's the best he's felt in five years," Walker relayed to Keegan Matheson of MLB.com Thursday.
"His confidence level is high right now. He's excited," Walker added. Kikuchi -- who will start the Jays' Grapefruit League opener Saturday -- has made tweaks to his delivery and looks sharp early on this spring. The left-hander posted a 5.19 ERA during his disappointing first season in Toronto last year, but he did strike out 124 over 100.2 innings and is viewed as the favorite to capture the fifth spot in the rotation to open 2023.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Makes encouraging delivery tweaks
Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Thursday that Kikuchi has made encouraging adjustments to his delivery, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports.
"I love what I've seen out of Yusei so far," said Schneider. "He's made some small tweaks with his arm path and spent a lot of time in the offseason working on it." Kikuchi is expected to contend with Mitch White this spring for the final spot in the Jays' season-opening starting rotation. The 31-year-old left-hander struggled to a 5.19 ERA in 100.2 innings last season for Toronto.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Not guaranteed to start
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said Thursday the team wants to "learn more and see more" before locking Kikuchi into the rotation for 2023, Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun reports.
Kikuchi joined Toronto on a three-year, $36 million deal in March and endured a rough first season with the team, as he finished with a 5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 124:58 K:BB across 100.2 innings. He started in 20 of 32 appearances but also struggled in his 12 relief outings. The Blue Jays may need to add a couple starters in free agency for Kikuchi to comfortably be kept out of the rotation in 2023 since Hyun Jin Ryu (elbow) won't be available until the second half of the season, at least.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Could start Wednesday
Kikuchi is the leading candidate to start Wednesday in Baltimore, Mitch Bannon of SI.com reports.
It's Alek Manoah's turn in the rotation, but the Jays will seemingly save him for the playoffs. Kikuchi's strikeouts spiked after a move to the bullpen Aug. 17, as he has 31 strikeouts over 16.2 innings. However, he has remained ineffective at preventing runs, logging a 5.40 ERA and 1.56 WHIP while surrendering four home runs and walking nine across that stretch.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Dropped from rotation
Interim manager John Schneider said Wednesday that Kikuchi will transition to a relief role, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports.
The 31-year-old has surrendered 14 runs (11 earned) over 17.1 innings since the All-Star break and has a 5.25 ERA for the season, and the Blue Jays have seen enough with him in the rotation. Mitch White will step into the rotation Saturday against the Yankees with Kikuchi now in the bullpen.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Early exit Monday
Kikuchi (4-7) took the loss Monday as the Blue Jays were downed 7-3 by the Orioles, coughing up six runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks over 3.1 innings. He struck out three.
The southpaw's own error on a pickoff attempt in the fourth inning was just one of Toronto's defensive miscues on the night, helping to soften the blow to his ERA, but Kikuchi was hit hard when he did allow contact -- three of the four hits off him went for extra bases, including a two-run homer by Jays nemesis Ryan Mountcastle. Since returning to the rotation at the end of July, Kikuchi has a 5.71 ERA thanks to a 2.6 HR/9 despite an otherwise solid 1.33 WHIP and 17:8 K:BB through 17.1 innings.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Hit hard in loss
Kikuchi (4-6) took the loss Monday as the Blue Jays fell 7-4 to the Orioles, coughing up five runs on six hits -- including three home runs -- and three walks over five innings. He struck out four.
The southpaw tossed 52 of 84 pitches for strikes, but once again bad things tended to happen when he was over the plate. Kikuchi gave up only four homers in 41.1 innings through the end of May, but his season has been a disaster since as he's been taken deep multiple times in five of his last 10 starts, leading to a 6.93 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 44:22 K:BB over his last 37.2 frames.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Fans five in no-decision
Kikuchi didn't factor into the decision in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Rays, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk over four innings. He struck out five.
The southpaw put together a solid line but got the hook after 74 pitches (44 strikes), as Toronto interim manager John Schneider didn't want him to face the Tampa Bay batting order for a third time. Kikuchi has been solid in two starts since returning from the IL, allowing three runs in nine innings with a 10:2 K:BB, but his 4.86 ERA on the season remains lackluster.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Picks up win in return from IL
Kikuchi (4-5) earned the win over Detroit on Thursday, pitching five innings and allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out five batters.
Kikuchi was activated earlier in the day after spending three weeks on the injured list due to a neck strain, and he was able to give Toronto 67 pitches and five innings en route to the victory. The only run against him came on a second-inning home run off the bat of Willi Castro. Kikuchi has completed five innings in only seven of 17 starts this season, so it was particularly notable that he was able to reach that mark in his first contest coming off an injury.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Activated prior to start
Kikuchi (neck) was reinstated from the 15-day injured list prior to Thursday's start against the Tigers.
Kikuchi missed three weeks due to his neck strain, but he made a rehab start at Triple-A Buffalo last week and struck out four in five scoreless innings. The left-hander wasn't particularly sharp ahead of his IL stint, posting a 6.82 ERA and 1.85 WHIP in 33 innings over the nine starts preceding his absence.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Starting Thursday
Kikuchi (neck) will be activated from the 15-day injured list to start Thursday's home game against the Tigers, Mitch Bannon of SI.com reports.
Kikuchi has been on the IL since July 7 due to a neck strain, but he began a rehab assignment last week and allowed two hits and three walks while striking out four in five scoreless innings during his lone minor-league start. He threw a side session Tuesday and has been cleared to rejoin the Blue Jays' rotation for Thursday's series opener against the Tigers. Kikuchi threw 77 pitches during his rehab start, so he should be able to handle a relatively significant workload against a favorable opponent.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Thursday return possible
Kikuchi (neck) threw a side session Tuesday and could be activated to start Thursday versus Detroit, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca reports.
It's unclear how long the club will wait to announce when Kikuchi is returning. The lefty struggled prior to his injury, posting a 7.99 ERA in 23.2 innings over his last seven starts, but the Tigers' hapless lineup could help him ease back into MLB action.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Could return from IL this week
Kikuchi (neck) covered five scoreless innings and struck out four in his rehab start Friday with Triple-A Buffalo. He scattered two hits and three walks in the outing.
The Blue Jays have yet to officially announce Kikuchi's next step, but since the veteran southpaw turned in quality results in his rehab outing while building up to 77 pitches, he should be ready to re-enter the rotation when the big club requires a fifth starter during their four-game series with the Tigers later this week. Though a potential matchup with a punchless Detroit offense is a good one for Kikuchi, he's been difficult to trust from a fantasy standpoint when healthy this season. Over 16 starts with Toronto, Kikuchi owns a 5.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and 74:41 K:BB across 65 innings.... See More ... See Less
Blue Jays' Yusei Kikuchi: Begins rehab assignment
Kikuchi (neck) will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Buffalo on Friday, Mitch Bannon of SI.com reports.
Kikuchi landed on the injured list due to a neck strain July 7 and will require at least one rehab start prior to rejoining the Blue Jays' rotation. It's not yet clear how many appearances the southpaw will make with the minor-league club, but he'll likely be in the mix to return sometime next week or in early August.... See More ... See Less
|HT/WT: 6-0, 210 lbs|
|Birthplace: Morioka, Japan|
|Bats/Throws: L, L|