Thursday, September 14, 2023

Senga Sensational Again As He Enters Cy Young Conversation


Kodai Senga firing one in against Arizona's Ketel Marte on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.

Kodai Senga continued his sensational season on Thursday, as he threw six shutout innings as the Mets cruised to an 11-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field.

Senga scattered just two hits and two walks, with 10 strikeouts, the fifth time this season he has hit double digits in strikeouts. He improved to 11-7 with a 2.95 ERA (earned run average), the first time it has been under three since his initial two starts. He is now 6-2, with five no-decisions, going back to June 28.

Through the first five innings, Senga was in such command that he had ten strikeouts and the other five outs were fly balls to center fielder Brandon Nimmo.

In the sixth, with the Mets up 7-0 by this point, Emmanuel Rivera led off with a single before Geraldo Perdomo flew out to center field. Corbin Carroll then grounded one to second baseman Jeff McNeil, breaking the stretch of a K or F8 at the first 16 outs of the game.

Senga then walked Ketel Marte and Tommy Pham to load the bases, but Christian Walker then flew out to, guess who, Nimmo, to end the threat. 

Kodai Senga pitching to Geraldo Perdomo in the sixth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets had built up their 7-0 lead against Arizona starter Merrill Kelly. That began in the third inning, when he walked Daniel Vogelbach, Mark Vientos, and Rafael Ortega to load the bases before Nimmo laced one into the right field corner for a double to bring in a pair of runs and make it 2-0 Mets.

Then, in the fifth, with one out, Nimmo singled, Francisco Lindor Walked, and Pete Alonso followed with an RBI double to give him 109 RBI on the season.

D.J. Stewart then followed with a two-run single, and Jeff McNeil followed with a two-run home run, his ninth of the season, to open up the 7-0 lead.

The Mets then got an RBI double from Francisco Alvarez in the seventh, and a three-run homer from Jonathan Arauz in the eighth inning that made it 11-1.

The Mets took three out of four games in this series, as they improved to 68-78, while Arizona, holders of the third National League Wild Card spot, fell to 76-72. The Mets can keep making their presence known in the playoff chase, as they begin a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, who are also 76-72, on Friday night at Citi Field.

Back to the sensational Senga - the Japanese rookie has worked his way up the rankings of league leaders among pitchers. He is now third in ERA (2.95) in the National League, behind Blake Snell of the San Diego Padres (2.43) and Justin Steele of the Chicago Cubs (2.49). He is also fourth among Major League pitchers, with the Yankees' Gerrit Cole (2.79) slotted third behind the two top N.L. pitchers and Senga.

Senga now has 191 strikeouts on the season, which is seventh-best in the National League and tied for 11th overall in Major League Baseball. That also is second-most for a rookie in Mets history, behind Dwight Gooden's 276 in 1984.

Entering Thursday's game, among qualified National League pitchers, Senga was fifth in opponents' batting average (.209) and fourth in strikeouts/nine innings (10.91). Also, he was fifth in the Majors in opponents' average against left-handed batters with a .195 mark (51-262) with a minimum 200 LHB faced.

Kodai Senga pitching to Tommy Pham in the first inning. on Thursday Photo by Jason Schott.

The trio that's thought to be leading the Cy Young race is Snell (14-9, 2.43 ERA), Steele (16-3, 2.49 ERA), and Arizona's Zac Gallen (15-8, 3.50 ERA). 

On Monday, Mets Manager Buck Showalter was asked if he has been following the Cy Young Award race, to which he said, “I don’t," and then when those three Cv Young contenders were mentioned to him, Buck responded, “I was wondering if you were going to mention Kodai at any point,” be said to the reporter, who said he would have him in consideration.

“If you consider everything that’s, you know, the challenge he’s facing, that’s probably why you think that way,” Showalter said. “You think about all the new things for him this year, I’m real proud of him. You’re talking about a whole group of good pitchers; they evaluate it in so many ways now.”

While Senga was superb on Thursday, Gallen was anything but, as the Mets touched him up for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks. That left Gallen with a record of 15-8 and his ERA (earned run average) jumped to 3.50.

In addition to all the accolades listed above, Senga has thrown 155.1 innings, has allowed 51 earned runs (56 overall), with 116 hits and 72 walks, giving him a 1.21 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). His strikeout to walk ratio is 2.7.

Senga is the 11th rookie in Mets history to have at least 10 wins in a season, and the first since Dillon Gee in 2011, when he won 13 games. 

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