When Yusei Kikuchi came out of Spring Training this year, there were high hopes that he had finally turned his game around as he led MLB among qualified pitchers with a 0.87 ERA and 31 strikeouts. At the time, Kikuchi attributed some of his success to the implementation of the pitch clock as it reduced his time to think about the mechanics and just focused on delivering the ball across the plate.
Well, that success carried over into the first month of the 2023 season, as he was one of the Jays’ pitching MVPs that month along with Kevin Gausman. Kikuchi mustered a strong stat line of 4-0 W-L record, 27 innings pitched, 24 hits, nine earned runs, six walks, 28 strikeouts, 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. So it made people wonder, has he officially regained his All-Star form from his time with the Seattle Mariners in 2021?
Unfortunately, an unforgettable month of May for Kikuchi certainly put that to rest. Despite his strong record from the month of April, some warning signs became evident during that stretch as he was still susceptible to the home run, giving up six in just 27 innings pitched. That has certainly become his undoing in May as in six starts, he was hit hard, surrendering another nine home runs in just over 29.1 innings, leading to a 2-2 record, with a 5.83 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 19 earned runs, 13 walks and 24 strikeouts.
This resembled more along with lines with his production with the Jays last season, as it appears that the clock has struck twelve and his Cinderella time has officially ran out. Hate to say it, but this may be the Kikuchi the Jays will be getting for the rest of the year if he doesn’t find a way quickly to right the ship in his next few starts.