1. Kodai Senga has to come back to earth, doesn't he?
If there's one positive to take from last year's dumpster fire of a season, it's that the signing of Kodai Senga was a smashing success. The Japanese righthander took New York by storm on the strength of his unhittable ghost fork pitch, finishing second in the N.L. Rookie of the Year race to Corbin Carroll of the Diamondbacks. Can he possibly replicate that same success this year?
The expectations for Senga are much higher this year, as he's now the Mets' unquestioned ace after his fantastic rookie season. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are both gone, having been shipped out at last year's trade deadline, and Senga is now expected to carry a rotation that has been pieced together with scotch tape and Elmer's glue.
There's nothing to suggest that Senga's season was a fluke, but it's fair to wonder if major league hitters will catch up a bit to him this year. Last year he was the great unknown, and the uniqueness of the ghost fork led to it being the most unhittable single pitch in the entire league. Senga's take on a splitter is devastating to be sure, but now that the league has seen it for a whole year, surely they have to improve on this?
Look, I'm not predicting that Senga will take a step back. If anything, he has room to improve his control, as he walked at least two batters in all but six of his 29 starts last year. All I'm saying is that it will be difficult to do much better than a sub-3.00 ERA in only his second season, and his first as the unquestioned ace of the staff.