Yusei Kikuchi is struggling again.
After going on the Injured List because of a “neck injury,” Kikuchi came back and put up a very good start against the Detroit Tigers that indicated he might have figured something out and turned a corner.
But in his next outing, it was back to the rollercoaster ride, as Kikuchi had two dominant innings against the Tampa Bay Rays before imploding and allowing three runs over the third and fourth innings.
On Monday night in Baltimore, Kikuchi got drilled right off the hop, as he allowed a three-run bomb in the first inning following a pair of walks and he then allowed back-to-back solo homers in the third inning. Kikuchi wound up settling down and allowed five runs over five innings all told.
While many Blue Jays fans have been screaming to have Kikuchi either exiled to the bullpen or the phantom Injured List or into space, manager John Schneider said that he’s going to continue to make starts…
As frustrating as it is to watch Kikuchi go out there and put up non-competitive starts, there isn’t much else that Schneider can do until Ross Stripling comes back from the Injured List. Swingman Mitch White is already in the rotation in place of Stripling, so if Kikuchi gets moved out, they’d have to either do a bullpen day or dip into Triple-A Buffalo’s depth and start somebody like Casey Lawrence or Thomas Hatch, which wasn’t a solution the last time around.
It’s an ugly situation right now, but, at the very least, the Blue Jays need Kikuchi to go out there and log innings so that the bullpen isn’t worn out getting through his starts. Last night’s loss featured three bullpen innings from Trent Thornton and Trevor Richards, a pair of names towards the back of the ‘pen, so at least the key names are rested for the next game.