Blue Jays: Yusei Kikuchi showing promising signs despite rough outing on Sunday

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels
Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels / John McCoy/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays went through a rollercoaster matchup in Anaheim, California against the Los Angeles Angels to win the weekend series. The Blue Jays came out with a 12-11 extra inning victory which was ignited by a late game rally that included a clutch Matt Chapman grand slam to shorten the gap.

The Blue Jays' bats came together along with the eight pitchers used to secure this road dub. Toronto looked to southpaw Yusei Kikuchi in his second start of the season after coming off a big win against the Kansas City Royals. What did he look like in this 10-inning fiesta?

Blue Jays left-handed starter battled through tough Angels lineup

Kikuchi lasted 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits, three home runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. Looking at this line, there is nothing beautiful about it; watching the long balls in the game was also not physically appealing. Kikuchi was faced with a hard-hitting lineup led by Shohei Ohtani who banged one out of the park, along with Hunter Renfroe and Logan O’Hoppe who also followed suit.

In light of this turbulent outing, there were some optimistic takes from the southpaw as we look towards the long run of this season and his spot in the rotation. Despite the 6.75 ERA, he showed a 59% strike rate. He had 11 called strikes, 14 swinging strikes, 15 in-play strikeouts, and 19 foul-offs for embedded strikes. This resulted in three ground and three flyouts, allowing one walk with six strikeouts.

There were positives from the eye of makeup evaluation today, and those positives were accumulative to comfort and composure. Kikuchi found a good tempo and threw the ball fluently with a strong finish and repetitive delivery. The trust for his fastball was evident and he attacked the zone using top and bottom shelf setups, staying on the borders of the zone to avoid getting hurt with the heater.

 His heater sat at 95mph, working in and out on command. Where he got burnt was going off track to unnecessary off-speed stuff in specific counts to batters below the sixth spot in the lineup. Ohtani’s bomb was a slider at 89mph in the inside wheelhouse of his zone. Renfroe’s homerun was a mid-shelf 88mph floating changeup and O’Hoppe’s shot was a really good 90mph slider bottom semi-inside for a 424ft ride to left field.

Overall, with better placement and selections of his off-speed offerings, Kikuchi could be been quite more effective and longer lasting. His physical performance carried more promise to it than the box score.

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