Let’s take a look at a starting pitcher that many of you have never seen, Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi is the latest pitcher to be posted from his Japanese league team, the Seibu Lions of the NPB. He is only 27 and has never had a major surgery, but has had shoulder issues in the past. Kiley McDaniel from Fangraphs projects him to get a four year 40 million dollar deal, ten million dollars annually, and an extra 10 to 15 percent going to the Lions as a posting fee.
Kikuchi is a four pitch pitcher having a fastball that sits mostly 92-93, but he’ll top out around 96 during most of his starts, and he’s thrown as hard as 98. He has two plus breaking balls, a mid-80s slider and mid-70s, 12-6 curve ball, and an average change up. He is a solid fielder and controls the run game very well. He’s been good enough for long enough that at least four big league teams tried to sign him right out of his Japanese high school back in 2009, but he decided to stay in Japan as their stars normally do. He had a 1.97 ERA with the Lions in 2017, with more than a strikeout an inning and allowed less than one base runner an inning. His ERA jumped to 3.08 in 2018, which isn’t bad in a very hitter friend league like the NPB.
Now, would I sign Yusei, no I wouldn’t, he may have already peaked. Scouting reports differ greatly, with some saying he’s a possible number 2 starter, others saying a third starter, some saying he could take on a role like Kenta Maeda, who takes a bullpen role for the playoffs. I don’t want the White Sox to be signing another long relief type guy. If your going to block one of your young starters, the pitcher who is blocking them better be starting a postseason game for me. He is three years old than Shohei Ohtani was when he came over, and one NL scout told Bleacher Report “It’s not fair, he’s not as good as others who have come over and failed.”
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