Mets in crisis, but ‘this year is different’ as they have ‘four candidates’ to replace him

New York Mets starter Kodai Senga, 31, who throws a fiery fastball that reaches up to 164 mph, has been dealt a blow ahead of the start of the season.

“The Mets are facing an early-season test with Senga’s shoulder injury,” MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball (MLB), reported on Wednesday (June 23).

Senga, who made his big league debut last year, quickly became the Mets’ ace. It’s a big blow for the Mets, who are still short on starting pitching and have been on the hunt for more.

“Senga will start the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that will prevent him from joining the team for Opening Day, Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said,” MLB.com reported, adding that Senga was “disappointed not to be with the team early in the season.”

Senga signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Mets in December 2022 after compiling an 87-44-1 record with 20 saves and a 2.59 ERA in 224 games and 1089 innings over 11 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The size of the deal was somewhat less than expected, with reports of problems with his medical tests.

Still, Senga had an outstanding season. After struggling to adjust to the big leagues, let alone play in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Senga picked up a win in his debut, striking out eight and walking one in 5 1/3 innings. From there, he was solid. In 29 games and 166 1/3 innings, he went 12-7 with 202 strikeouts and a 2.98 ERA.

The team was also careful to keep Senga injury-free. Given that he started once a week in the NPB, the team used a six-day rotation system where he pitched on five days’ rest. At times, they had to be extra cautious, using a six-man rotation, but it didn’t matter because Senga did his job.

The fiery fastball was still there, and Senga’s signature forkball, dubbed the “ghost fork,” kept big league batters off-balance. He was the No. 1 starter. Senga was the only Mets pitcher with double-digit wins. With Tyler Megill (9-8, 4.70 ERA), David Peterson (3-8, 5.03 ERA), Carlos Carrasco (3-8, 6.80 ERA), and Jose Quintana (3-6, 3.57 ERA) all failing to deliver, Senga was the lone bright spot in the Mets’ starting rotation.

There was even talk that he was too cheap. He made it through a full season without any problems due to rotation management.

However, heading into the new season, something went wrong. His fears were realized. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed a deformity in the posterior joint capsule of his right shoulder, and the Mets immediately banned Senga from pitching and will continue his rest and rehabilitation until the symptoms subside and he regains normal strength.

“I can’t tell you right now exactly when he’ll be back,” Stearns said, adding that surgery was not necessary. “All I can say at this point is that I don’t expect him to be ready for the opener. But as we look at the season, we expect him to be able to play a lot of games for the team.”

Senga informed the team of his injury immediately. “He did the right thing and told us (the injury),” Stearns said, “so we could take a look at it and get it treated and hopefully catch it early enough that it’s just a speed bump.” The hope is that early detection will prevent the worst from happening.

The Mets spent the offseason searching for a starting pitcher. Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha Eagles) was one of the names that kept popping up as a possible target.

MLB.com took a look at who could replace Senga on Thursday. “Senga’s injury puts a hole in the early optimism that the Mets could surprise the National League East,” the outlet wrote, “but maybe it’s still possible. Heading into camp, Mets officials frequently cited the rotation’s depth as a strength of the team.”

With their starting rotation shaky all season, the Mets signed free agent right-hander Luis Severino (one year, $13 million) and left-hander Sean Manaea (two years, $28 million). They also 토토사이트 acquired another right-hander, Adrian Houser, in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Severino struggled last year, going 4-8 with a 6.65 ERA in 89⅓ innings. Still, the Mets were interested in him because he has a 54-37 record with a 3.79 ERA in his career. Manaea went 7-6 with a 4.44 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 117⅔ innings last season. Hauser was 8-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 111 1/3 innings last season with 96 strikeouts and 96 walks. For his career, he is 31-34 with a 4.00 ERA.

There are some other players who are exciting to watch. Megill, Joey Lucchesi, Jose Bautista, and Max Kranik. Megill has filled in before when Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander were injured. He has a chance to crack the top five once again. Last year, he made a strong impact in August and September, but was inconsistent. “Obviously, what I want to do is not pitch out of the bullpen. I want to be a starter,” Megill said, making his opinion strongly known.

Luchesi debuted in 2018 and has a lot of experience compared to his competitors. Bhutto was ranked as the 12th-best pitcher on the Mets’ 2022 MLB Pipeline roster, ahead of Megill. He was called up last September and posted a 3.29 ERA in five appearances. Another candidate, Kranik, hasn’t pitched consistently in the big leagues for the past three years, so he may be a bit out of the running, but he’s one of the more powerful pitchers in the system.

The Mets finished fourth in the NL East last season with 75 wins and 87 losses. A particularly weak starting rotation was a big problem, but there are hopes that this year will be different. Despite the loss of their number one starter, there are plenty of options to fill the void. That’s why Senga can continue his rehabilitation in a relatively calm manner.

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