Mets’ Kodai Senga continues to shine in impressive rookie campaign

New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium
New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium / Jeff Curry – USA TODAY Sports

Mets right-hander Kodai Senga continued his rookie season dominance in Saturday night’s 13-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Senga dealt with some early trouble as Paul Goldschmidt reached on an error and advanced into scoring position, but the threat was quickly erased. He settled in after that and was in control for the most part the rest of the night.

A leadoff walk provided some early traffic in the second, but he quickly rolled a double play to work his way out of the inning. Senga’s lone mistake came in the fourth when Nolan Arenado jumped on a first pitch curveball and crushed it into the bullpen for a solo shot, but that was it against him.

The red hot Mets offense handed Senga a big lead to work with and he was on cruise control the rest of the night. He came back out for the bottom of the seventh and capped off his outing by striking out a pair of batters.

With Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander traded at the deadline, Senga continues to pitch like the ace of the Mets’ rotation. He tossed seven strong innings and allowed just the one run on two hits while walking two and striking out five.

Mets manager Buck Showalter said he’s proud of how Senga has pitched after a bit of an adjustment period.

“He’s been solid,” the skipper said. “I can sit here and critique a lot of things that he’s doing and where he is in the season and everything that he’s done to get here, but I think we’ve got it well documented. He continues to be solid for us.”

Senga’s now allowed three runs of fewer in ten consecutive outings. Over that span he’s pitched to a 2.78 ERA and has 67 strikeouts while allowing just three home runs and issuing 20 walks.

He’s slowly but surely started to put himself at least in the conversation as a contender for the National League Cy Young Award. Senga now has ten wins to go along with a 3.19 ERA (ninth in MLB) and 1.25 WHIP through 23 starts.

With his five K’s on Saturday night, he became just the seventh pitcher in franchise history and the fifth Japanese pitcher to reach the 150-strikeout mark in his rookie season.

While it’s certainly an impressive feat, the most notable accomplishment to Senga at this point in the season, is his ability to take the ball every five or six days.

“The biggest goal for me has been just staying healthy and hitting 150 strikeouts just comes with staying healthy,” he said through a translator. “I still have a little bit of the season left, so I just want to maintain that.”

Senga’s next appearance should be a fun one as he’s scheduled to face-off with Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels next weekend at Citi Field.

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