The best pitcher in Asia this season, or perhaps over the past three years, was Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels). Ohtani, who underwent elbow ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery) in 2018 right after entering the major leagues and received a consultation, began pitching and batting in earnest in 2021 and achieved excellent results as a pitcher.
Ohtani, who recorded 9 wins, 2 losses, and an average ERA of 3.18 in 23 games in 2021, met the regulation innings requirement in 28 games last year (166 innings), leaving behind an impressive record of 15 wins, 9 losses, an average ERA of 2.33, and 174 strikeouts. Ohtani was second in American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting and fourth in Cy Young Award voting. He also played 132 innings in 23 games this year, recording 10 wins, 5 losses, and an average ERA of 3.14.
Ohtani started 74 games over three years, pitched 428⅓ innings, and recorded 34 wins, 16 losses, and an ERA of 2.84. He achieved results worthy of challenging for the Cy Young Award both as a batsman and as a pitcher, so this is also a point where you can truly feel Ohtani’s greatness. However, for the time being, Ohtani will not be able to stand on the mound. He started against Cincinnati on August 24th (Korean time), but was kicked out early due to pain in his elbow, and a ruptured elbow ligament was discovered, so he ended the season as a pitcher.
Although surgery has not yet been decided, Ohtani has already undergone elbow surgery once. Even if he undergoes surgery again after this season, it will be difficult for him to pitch in 2024. It is predicted that a return to the mound will not be possible until the second half of 2025. This is why Ohtani’s name will inevitably be left out of the ranks of Asia’s best pitchers for the time being.
So, who is the best starting pitcher in Asia this season without Ohtani? You can also think of the names of Yu Darvish, who played as San Diego’s ace, Yusei Kikuchi of Toronto, who successfully rebounded this year, and Kenta Maeda and Hyun-jin Ryu, who returned one after another from elbow surgery. However, when it comes to overall contribution, the name of Senga Kodai (30) cannot be left out. He is having a better-than-expected major league debut season and is providing some comfort to depressed Mets fans.
Senga, who signed a five-year contract with the New York Mets for a total of $75 million (about 98.9 billion won) ahead of this season, started the season as the team’s third starter. The ‘ghost forkball’, which has been famous since its days in Japan, was a big topic in the United States as well. I was looking forward to the task of pushing the team rotation behind legendary pitchers such as Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. But now he is the ace of the team. As the possibility of advancing to the postseason fell, the Mets sold Scherzer and Verlander one after another. The player who supports the Mets rotation is Senga.
Senga tended to struggle early in the season with frequent walks. He even lost his right to participate in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) before the season, but had to adapt to even the most basic pitches and mounds. However, as he goes on, his pitching becomes more stable. He is primarily supported by his fastball velocity (average 95.7 mph) and also has a forkball, which is his main weapon. His command is also becoming more stable.메이저놀이터
As of the 4th, Senga has pitched 143⅓ innings in 25 games this season, recording 10 wins, 7 losses, an ERA of 3.08, and 176 strikeouts. His earned run average is third in the National League. His formidable strikeout ability of 11.05 per nine innings raises expectations for him. Gradually improving grades may be evidence of adaptation. Senga’s average ERA in 16 games in the first half was 3.31. The 9 games in the second half are 2.68. A decrease in walks is noticeable.
The forkball was a masterpiece. This season, the rate of swings and misses when batters bring out the bat is as high as 60.2%. As a single pitch, it is the best in the league. His hitting percentage is only 0.113. He may not be able to bluff hitters with his fastball, but he has the ability to easily dispatch hitters once he gets his 2S. For the Mets, who need to fill the positions left by Verlander and Scherzer from a long-term perspective, the presence of Senga, who still has time left on his contract, may be very reassuring.
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter also looked forward to next year’s performance, saying, “I’m glad he can continue what he pitched this year,” and added, “It’s going to be hard to win the ERA title, but I’d like to see him finish under 3.00. I think that would look good.” “He has a lot of weapons,” he said, praising him.
Senga personally also needs to hold out well for the next three years in order to hit the jackpot in the free agent (FA) market. Senga signed a five-year contract with the Mets. But he has an opt-out clause if he pitches more than 400 innings over any of his first three years (2023-2025). This is his last chance to hit the jackpot. At his current performance, he is worth $15 million per year. He wasn’t just a ghost forkball. Senga’s true colors may begin now.