Headed into the start of the 2023 MLB season, the New York Mets were portrayed as one of the best teams in the National League. Their rotation was set up to be lethal, with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the top of it.
Over the offseason they also brought in former NPB pitcher Kodai Senga, signing him to a five-year deal worth $75 million. In 11 seasons playing professional ball in Japan, the 30-year-old had a 2.42 ERA. No one was expecting him to light it up in his first season pitching in New York, but he exceeded expectations.
In a season where the Mets let go of two future Hall-of-Fame pitchers, they might've found an ace to take over the reins. In 28 starts so far, Senga has a 2.96 ERA and 194 strikeouts. With one more start slated for his season, he might be able to eclipse 200 strikeouts in his first season.
What is even more incredible is he hasn't let up more than three earned runs in 15 consecutive starts. During that stretch Senga has been one of the game's very best pitchers, posting a 2.50 ERA, with 107 strikeouts.
Is Kodai Senga ready to be the ace of the 2024 New York Mets?
New York might've fallen flat on their face this season, but they still have enough talent to build a competitive team for next year. They will have one of the best closers in baseball returning in Edwin Diaz, to go along with the four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Pete Alonso's future is still in the air, but if he returns New York has a strong core in place.
New President of Baseball Operations David Stearns will have some work to do, but he certainly has good pieces to build around. Senga is one of those pieces, as he is a Cy Young candidate in the National League.
Senga has an opportunity to finish with the second-best ERA in the NL if he can have another strong start in his 29th and final appearance of the season. He is also top ten in the NL in strikeouts, walks, and batting average allowed.
Senga was one of Japan's best pitchers for over a decade, and Mets fans are excited about what he could provide for the team when they're in a postseason race again. They are also excited about his ties with a couple of upcoming free agents.
Senga has ties to Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani and one of the best pitchers in Japan, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Only time will tell if he will be able to help the Mets in any way recruit those top talents, but during the 2023 All-Star festivities, Senga was seen talking to the former MVP Ohtani.
Not only has Senga established himself as a legit ace in MLB in his first season, but he is also becoming a leader of this team. He won six championships during his time playing in Japan, and he expects nothing but the best out of himself.
New York has a very important offseason ahead. One of the hardest pieces of a team to build is a starting rotation, and the Mets don't have a very deep one. However, with the way Senga has looked in year one, they have an ace at the top heading into next season.