Yusei Kikuchi shows he’s playoff-ready in win over Rays

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Prasad
1 month ago
The blue and white filled streets of Bremner Avenue and Front Street shovelled their way into an opened ambient Rogers Center to fill the seats at a capacity of 42,394 fans. Compared to the Yankees series, the dome was vibrant and postseason-marinaded. What was the seasoning to the victory? Explosive offence and a job well done by the starting pitcher.
The Toronto Blue Jays brought out the lumber in style tonight, sticking 16 hits and scoring 11 runs to blow past the Tampa Bay Rays. Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, and Alejandro Kirk all went yard in addition to multiple huge clutch hits to mark up the scoreboard. The Rays went through five arms which tallied nine earned runs in eight innings of work. Although a big offence was executed, the Blue Jays starting pitching was a silent killer. 
If you look at Yusei Kikuchi’s final line, there are not a ton of emphasized numbers, however, the performance was far more valuable beyond that. Kikuchi fed the ball well all game in just 5.0 innings. He gave up three earned runs in five innings with four strikeouts and two walks. In a 76-pitch night, Kikuchi threw 45 strikes; he had eight called strikes, eight swinging strikes, 15 fouls balls, and 14 in-play strikes. 
What was exciting about Kikuchi’s start? Consistency! His consistency in working his off-speed is beneficial, showing a lot more confidence in his curveball, which statistically he relies on less than a slider or the four-seam fastball. The curveball did it’s job, keeping it low and away, getting hitters to roll over which caused four weak ground balls and five lazy flyballs. The slider worked its usual course, executed decently which split 0-2 counts into workable situations.  The fastball was also well located and used effectively. 
Two main things come to mind about Kikuchi’s start:
  • 1. Kikuchi provided a solid five innings which could have easily gone to six to ensure the win; we can expect to get a fair amount of innings from him in postseason contention which can include in possible relief roles. 
  • 2. Kikuchi is great at pitching to contact, keeping that contact soft, and he is a phenomenal fielder in his position. If the Blue Jays can execute consistently, pitch to contact, and explode on runs, this team could be high-level contenders, even as a wild card team.        
The Blue Jays need just one more victory to clinch a berth in this playoffs. Hyun Jin Ryu is likely to start the second game of this series with the Rays and Kevin Gausman would start on Sunday if the Blue Jays need a Game 162 victory.


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