The New York Mets won’t have to wait much longer for one of their top free-agent acquisitions to make his spring training debut.
Kodai Senga, the highly-touted Japanese right-hander, will toe the rubber for the first time as a Met on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals, as first reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post.
The 30-year-old threw a live bullpen session on Tuesday, throwing two innings while facing Brandon Nimmo, Tommy Pham, and Starling Marte — the latter striking out on Senga’s anticipated ghost forkball.
Filth from Kodai Senga to strike out Starling Marte 🤢 pic.twitter.com/lOzhTVETFr
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) February 28, 2023
Asked why he wasn’t pitching in the Mets’ exhibition game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday afternoon, Senga said, “I don’t know.” Granted, he’s following a stricter preparation schedule put forth by the Mets to ensure as close of a seamless transition from Japan to the United States as possible especially when it comes to his workload.
With the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Senga only eclipsed the 148-inning mark twice in 11 seasons. After signing a five-year, $75 million with the Mets this winter, he’s projected to be the team’s No. 3 starter in between co-aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander along with Jose Quintana and Carlos Carrasco.
Quintana had an especially difficult spring-training debut for the Mets on Tuesday against the Astros, going just 0.2 innings while allowing five runs on four hits with one walk on 30 pitches.
Senga admitted earlier in spring training that the toughest thing to get used to is the steepness of the major-league mound, though he has adapted well to the larger ball that’s used here compared to the one used in Nippon Professional Baseball.
His fastball has topped out at 96 mph while initial returns on that ghost forkball appear promising.
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