Now that the 2023 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of the season from A (Abraham Almonte) to W (Josh Walker). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at starting pitcher Kodai Senga.
Player Review: Kodai Senga
2023 Stats: 29 Starts, 166.1 Innings Pitched, 12-7 Won-Loss Record, 2.98 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 202:77 K:BB Ratio, .208 Batting Average Against, 4.5 WAR
Story: There were fewer players on the Mets who had more intrigue entering spring training than Kodai Senga, who signed a five-year deal worth $75 million in the offseason to replace Chris Bassitt in the team’s starting rotation. Senga was the Mets’ most significant international free agent signing since Kaz Matsui and fans were eager to see how Senga’s famed “ghost fork” would translate to major league competition.
The Mets saw Senga make his big league debut against the Miami Marlins on April 2nd and he pitched very well, allowing just one run in 5.1 innings while striking out eight to earn his first big league win. Senga was eased into the majors as the Mets tried to give him an extra day of rest as often as possible, waiting until June to start Senga on the traditional fifth day.
Early results were mixed on Senga, who had some issues with command as he adjusted to the new baseball, but he had a few standout games, such as a 12 strikeout performance against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 17, seven innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 30, and eight innings of one-run ball with 12 strikeouts against the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 5 to finish the first half with an ERA of 3.31.
That performance helped Senga be named to the National League All-Star team as an injury replacement, although he opted not to pitch in the game in order to start the second game of the second half against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Senga was forced to step up in the rotation even more in the second half when the Mets traded away Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, making him the de facto ace of a depleted pitching staff.
The Mets got everything they could have hoped for out of Senga and more as he dominated down the stretch, never giving up more than three earned runs in a start after June 17th and giving the team a must-see attraction when there wasn’t much going for the big league roster. Senga finished his rookie season with 202 strikeouts and a sub-3.00 ERA, helping him finish second to Arizona’s Corbin Carroll in the National League Rookie of the Year race.
The Mets got more than they could possibly have imagined from Senga, who pitched at an ace-like level even though there were questions about how his command would translate to the big league level. Senga would have won Rookie of the Year honors in almost any other season where a player like Carroll didn’t debut but the Mets have to be thrilled they have a key building block of their rotation at a reasonable rate going forward.
Contract Status: Signed Through 2027 (Will Earn $15 Million In 2024)
Odds Of Returning: 100%
2024 Role: No. 1 Starter
The Mets will roll with Senga as their ace entering the 2024 season and are planning to try and give him an extra day of rest whenever possible again in order to maximize his effectiveness. That strategy certainly appears to be sound as one of the biggest risk factors for a bad season in 2024 is a bit of regression from Senga in his second year in Major League Baseball.
Check back tomorrow as our Player Review Series continues with a look at relief pitcher Drew Smith!