Yusei Kikuchi of the Seattle Mariners has one more start on the schedule this season (next Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics), but it’s looking more and more unlikely that he’ll get that opportunity. After representing the Mariners at the All-Star game this season, Kikuchi has struggled mightily in the second half, posting a 1-5 record with a 5.98 ERA since the break.
Daniel Kramer, Mariners Insider for MLB.com, reported today that the Mariners are looking into different options for how to handle Kikuchi’s upcoming spot in the rotation, including calling up Matt Brash, Seattle’s #10 prospect:
Whether calling up Matt Brash is the best option or not, the Mariners simply can’t afford to give Yusei Kikuchi another start.
The Mariners’ formula for success during the second half of this season has largely relied on excellent outings by starting pitchers, who ideally hand over a lead to Seattle’s stout bullpen after six innings. Through Kikuchi’s 13 starts since the break, though, he’s only produced three quality starts (minimum six innings pitched and maximum three earned runs allowed). That type of production simply doesn’t live up to what Seattle needs from its starting pitchers.
Every game matters right now for the Mariners (as they currently sit two games behind the New York Yankees for the second American League Wild Card spot), and it doesn’t appear that manager Scott Servais can run out Kikuchi for his next start while remaining confident that he is setting up his team for a win.
It was a pleasure to watch Kikuchi during his solid first half of the season, but his first half success doesn’t outweigh his disastrous performance since then; certainly not while the Mariners are chasing their first playoff berth in 20 years.
Love it or hate it, but we’ve likely seen Yusei Kikuchi throw his last pitch of the season.