The list of things Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga has had to assimilate to after making the move to Major League Baseball following 11 pro seasons in Japan was nearly innumerable.
A higher workload, a steeper mound, a larger and more inconsistent ball to throw — the Mets have taken it slow with the right-hander, having him only pitch on regular rest twice this season.
But one of his most prevalent struggles had been pitching away from Citi Field. Across his first five road starts in his major-league career, Senga yielded 17 runs in 25 innings of work (6.12 ERA) with 17 walks compared to 32 strikeouts. That’s just 1.88 punchouts for every walk.
“I think part of the reason [for the road struggles] is the long travel that we have to go through,” Senga said back on May 30. “That’s something that’s an adjustment that I need to make.”
It certainly appears that he’s made those adjustments.
Senga has allowed just three runs in 20.1 innings pitched over his last three road outings (1.34 ERA), headlined by a brilliant start on Wednesday night in Arizona where he allowed one run on four hits across eight innings with 12 strikeouts and just one walk.
“With the All-Star break coming up, I knew I had a lot of days off and I wanted to go deep into the game,” Senga said (h/t SNY). “To be able to do that, it was special.”
Those 12 strikeouts matched a career-high for the 30-year-old rookie, whose strikeouts-to-walk ratio over those last three road starts has improved to a flat three (24 K’s, 8 walks) — and it’s only helping him to further settle into a groove in North America.
Over his last nine starts, Senga has a 2.73 ERA, lowering his season mark to 3.31. That’s the lowest it’s been since he completed his second start of the season on April 8 following a six-inning, one-run gem against the Miami Marlins.
“I think the biggest thing is staying healthy,” Senga said (h/t Andrew Treddenick, NorthJersey.com). “I’m able to stay healthy and that’s thanks to all the staff behind the scenes and the coaches that are using me in the right way. We still have half the season left to go, so I need to maintain my health.”