I am still a little confused over the signing of Yusei Kikuchi, who Ross Atkins gave a three-year deal at $36 Million. Going into 2021, the Japanese born Kikuchi had a posted an 8-15 record with a 5.39 ERA over 41 starts and a WHIP of nearly 1.50. The money spent was likely because of Kikuchi being named to the All-Star Game during the 2021 season after he started the year with a 3.18 ERA while holding opponents batting average to .195 through his first 15 starts.
After coming over to the Blue Jays, Kikuchi's performance was mostly in line with his career norm outside of those first 15 games in 2021. During his first four starts in April, Kikuchi was unable to get out of the fourth inning in all but one of his starts. It looked as though he was going to be able to right the ship as showed signs of why he was an All-Star the previous year.
In May, he gave a pair of quality starts and posted a 2.36 ERA over five starts, however there was not much in the way of quality pitching after that. Kikuchi remained in the rotation until the middle of August and after posting a 7.02 ERA over his next 11 starts, he was moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
Where Berríos has shown a lengthy track record of a half decade of being a durable, quality pitcher, Kikuchi has failed to do anywhere near that and has struggled to give a couple consecutive quality months. I have little to no confidence that Kikuchi, who has two years left and $20 Million in salary remaining will be able to be counted on. I think the best case scenario is he starts in the bullpen and as the possible sixth starter to see if he can move up the depth charts.