Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider confirmed last night that left-hander Yusei Kikuchi will be pitching out of the bullpen for further notice and newly acquired Mitch White will be given the start in New York when the Jays face the Yankees for a four-game series.
Schneider was confirming what Jays fans already kind of saw coming, as Kikuchi was sitting out in the bullpen during last night’s game and White was with the other Jays starters during the bullpen walk back to the dugout, a ritual amongst the Jays rotation prior to every start.
Kikuchi has struggled over the course of the season but his last two starts have been abysmal, as he has allowed six walks, eight earned runs, and four home runs off of 10 hits through 8.1 innings combined. The fastball control has been an issue for the Japanese product for most of the campaign and even after the return from his neck strain IL stint, opponents were still barreling up his offerings and his 5.94 FIP is a solid indicator that the troubles are stemming from Kikuchi rather than poor defense.
Blue Jays manager John Schneider announced that Yusei Kikuchi has been moved to the bullpen and Mitch White will start Saturday in New York.
On the flip side, right-hander Mitch White will be given a golden opportunity to prove that he belongs in the rotation moving forward and has been handed the ball for an important Saturday game against a struggling Yankees squad.
Before being traded to Toronto at the deadline, White had made ten starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers (through 15 outings) and was pitching well, owning a 3.47 ERA with 36 strikeouts through 46.2 innings and holding opposing batters to a .238 average. He produced a 4.08 FIP as a Dodgers starter and walked 16 batters as well.
Since being called up to the Blue Jays, White has made two starts for the club. His first outing was a rain-filled affair in Minnesota on August 6th that saw him go 4.2 innings and allow three earned runs while his second outing against Cleveland on Saturday was almost identical to his previous start, going another 4.2 innings but allowed just one earned run. Through the nine combined innings, White owns a 3.86 ERA with five strikeouts and a 3.9 BB/9.
This will be one of White’s biggest games of the season, as a solid outing against the Yankees in their home barn will go a long way to convincing the Jays that he belongs in the rotation over Kikuchi, as it doesn’t look like he has been given the rotation spot just yet.
There was no announcement as to when/if Kikuchi would return to the rotation this season, so if White can go out and pitch well and keep the runs off the board (and hopefully go a bit deeper than 4.2 innings), there should be no reason to take him out of the rotation over Kikuchi for the time being.