Good Vibes Only: Talking Ourselves Into Yusei Kikuchi Becoming the Bullpen Ace

Let’s just get this out of the way before we begin. Yusei Kikuchi hasn’t been good at all this season.

In fact, I’d say he’s been pretty awful. Over 83.1 innings pitched, he has a 5.18 ERA and 5.90 FIP with a 13.2 BB%. When you factor in his three-year, $36 million contract (in which he makes $16 million in 2022), things haven’t gone right for him in the slightest.
However, not all hope is lost. Time and time again, I see folks ask how Tampa, Baltimore, and many other teams can find random dudes who become bullpen aces. Well, one of the best ways to find these random dudes is by converting failed starters into relievers.
Let’s look at some of the better relievers in baseball. Edwin Diaz? Started as a starter. Jordan Romano? Started as a starter. Liam Hendricks? You guessed it, started as a starter. Josh Hader was also a starter. Even the best closer in MLB history, the only player to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera, was a starter.
When Kikuchi pitches out of the pen, will he be anything like any of these guys? More than likely, no. However, let’s discuss Hader as they have some similarities.
Hader made 95 starts over five years in the Orioles, Astros, and Brewers system, before sticking in the majors as a reliever in 2017. He started 14 games in Triple A …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Yusei Kikuchi is going on the “Injured” List with a “neck strain”

They’re calling it a neck strain, but we all know Yusei Kikuchi is actually going on the Injured List for Left Arm Shittyness.

The Blue Jays announced the move ahead of tonight’s series-opener in Seattle….

LHP Yusei Kikuchi (neck strain) placed on 15-day IL
RHP Max Castillo recalled from Triple-A and will be active tonight
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 7, 2022

This move allows the Blue Jays to get Max Castillo back on the roster, which could come in handy as Anthony Banda/Casey Lawrence is starting tonight. The Blue Jays also haven’t named a starter for Friday’s game yet, so Castillo could figure into that.
Anyways, back to Kikuchi.
After a very good start against the Tampa Bay Rays last week, Kikuchi again completely lost control of the strike zone on Tuesday in Oakland. He allowed four earned runs and walked five batters and was only able to clear two-and-one-third innings.
Since the beginning of June, Kikuchi has only cleared five innings in one start, and that was the aforementioned Tampa game last week. Given the way he’s been going, the Blue Jays had to figure out to slam the rest button with Kikuchi because it isn’t working right now.
There had been some thought the team could opt to put him in the ‘pen where he could work on specific things in a role with less pressure. That’s what the team did with Robbie Ray when he was originally acquired mid-way through a miserable 2020 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But for now, Kikuchi will take a breather and try to figure out what’s happening. If he can’t get things sorted, the Blue Jays will need a solution before the trade deadline to fill the number five spot in the starting rotation.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Blue Jays walk eight in 5-3 loss to Oakland Athletics

Yusei Kikuchi just can’t find his command.

He’s struggled all year walking batters left right and center in games, and last Thursday, it appeared he got things back under control.
Oh, what fools we all are.
The Jays needed a big start from the lefty on Tuesday night against the Oakland A’s having dropped a 5-1 stinker before. Instead, they got 2.1 IP where Kikuchi gave seven of the 14 batters he faced a free pass to first plate.
Five walks, two batters hit by pitches, and four earned runs allowed on two hits.

“It’s tough to play behind a guy who isn’t throwing strikes.” – #Bluejays manager Charlie Montoyo.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) July 6, 2022

While Trent Thornton was able to come into the came and right the ship with a solid 2.1 IP allowing just one hit and an earned run while walking one, the damage had been done. Toronto just couldn’t recover and by the end of the night, they tied a season-high walking eight batters by the end of the night.
As tough as the pitching was to watch, the offence was equally as frustrating as we had to watch the Jays outhit the A’s 10-4, but still lose by two runs. While Matt Chapman blew the doors off going 3 for 4 with a two run, 424-foot blast and Teoscar Hernandez smashed a solo home run, the Jays just couldn’t get it going.
In the top of the six, the Jays had a chance to get themselves back into the game. Alejandro Kirk stood at second with Hernandez at first when Chapman hit a deep single into left-center field. Jays 3B coach Luis Rivera inexplica …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation