Yusei Kikuchi has been pitching great for the Mariners lately and will look to continue his hot streak in the finale against the Rangers. You might not think it by looking at his ERA, but Kikuchi has been doing a lot better than you would think after taking a cursory glance.
Back in April, Yusei gave up five runs in seven innings to the Astros, before giving up 5 runs in just 4.2 innings to the Red Sox. His ERA was up to 5.70, and we were all worried. He was throwing harder, but it just didn’t seem like it was working out that great. The team has a big decision to make about his crazy option coming up, and a 5.70 ERA through four starts wasn’t helping things.
(For those who don’t know, the Mariners can exercise a 4-66 team option on Yusei Kikuchi. If they don’t, he can choose what becomes a 1-13 player option).
Since the Boston game, Yusei Kikuchi has been the Mariners best starter.
Over those last five starts, he has posted a stellar ERA of 2.78. More importantly, he has been going deep into games, helping the team preserve the bullpen which has been overworked and heavily injured. 7.0, 7.0, 6.1, 6.0, and 6.0 are how many innings he has thrown over each start. It all started off in the no-no bid against the Astros, in which Kikuchi turned in the best game of his career for the Mariners.
Going up against the Rangers, there is a legitimate question to ask. Could Yusei Kikuchi throw his best game as a Mariner to finish out the series?
The game score of 80 was his best mark, but I think he has a legit shot at breaking that in this afternoon’s game. We know Kikuchi can go deep into games, so that is instantly going to get him a good amount of points. Starting at 50, you get one for each out, and two for every inning after the 4th, plus one for each strikeout. You lose a point for a walk, two for each hit, two for unearned runs, and four for earned runs.
What kind of line would be reasonable to expect from Yusei today? He goes deep into games, has two double-digit strikeout games, and has done a good job at limiting runners, keeping the WHIP at .9034 during those five starts. Here’s what I’m thinking, without going crazy over the top.
Eight Innings, five hits, two walks, one earned run, and 11 strikeouts.
That would come out to a game score of 79. It would fall just short of his outing against the Astros earlier this year. It’s still a great game, and one we would all be happy to see. If I were to go way over the top, here is what I could see happening.
Nine Innings, 120 pitches, four hits, one walk, no runs, 14 strikeouts.
A game like that is probably somewhere in Yusei’s ability. Maybe it’s something that we will see some day. It would give a game score of 92, and rank as the 9th best game thrown this season, and become the 11th game with a game score of 90 or better.
When it comes down to it, all I want is another quality start from Yusei, and the Mariners to figure out enough on offense to get the win. It’s not too much to ask for them to get back to .500, right?