Did the Mariners Find the Next Great Pitcher in Yusei Kikuchi?

There have been many pitchers who have shown their abilities on the mound. Pitchers like Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Mariano Rivera, and Nolan Ryan are names that come up in every conversation about who the nastiest pitcher ever is. From the length of his body, fortitude as a lefty, and the unreal movement of his fastball Randy Johnson was a pitcher that the MLB had never seen anything like before. Some even feared him and the life that he showed on his fastball. Just ask John Kruk what it was like facing Randy Johnson in an All Star game. Sandy Koufax’s Curveball along with the fastball of Nolan Ryan and Cutter of Mariano Rivera have forever changed the game of baseball and the way that the game of baseball is played not only in the MLB, but also all the way down to the youngsters playing travel baseball or Little League.

Nowadays the big thing is how fast you throw. Colleges around the world are signing kids throwing in the mid to upper 90s. The average speed of a fastball is up higher then it has ever been in the major leagues. Aroldis Chapman was the one who really started this trend, throwing a world record 105 mph. For so long closers among the likes of Chapman were the only ones that threw in the 100s and mid 90s, but now it is a regular to see guys like Justin Verlander hitting 100 mph, as a starting pitcher.

These are the things that make one guy’s presence in the MLB so special. Yusei Kikuchi. If you don’t know the name then get to know it because this dude has the capability to be one of the best and biggest surprises this year. Kikuchi is a left hander that was signed to a four year deal with the Mariners this offseason. He had previously pitched in Japan and been a DOMINANT force. He has a mid 90s fastball which for many may be a little bit slower than what you would want to see from a major league left handed pitcher. He only relies on two pitches to get the majority of his outs. Aside from his fastball he has a slider that is more readily used as his putaway pitch.

In hindsight Kikuchi isn’t really much of an MLB pitcher. Why go all the way to Japan in order to make a signing if you are the Mariners? And why was this guy of such a high value? All these doubts fade away when you watch the dude pitch. He is an absolute DOG. He has a similar windup to that of many other Asian pitchers in the MLB, but has one difference. He hides the ball so dang well. The ball comes out of his glove before being hidden behind his knee. Then he hides it at his hip before finally hiding it behind his head and throwing. As a hitter you don’t see the ball until it is out of his hand and slung towards the plate. A huge disadvantage to the hitter. Especially lefty hitters. His fastball seems more like it is coming in at 100 because for a split second the hitter has no idea where the ball is or where it is coming from. Kikuchi has already shown the ability that he has to get outs. Striking out the likes of Joey Votto. A well established and respected hitter. Kikuchi will be a huge asset and perfect fit on MLB mounds. He may even be a Cy Young hopeful by the end of this season. Watch out baseball, here Kikuchi comes.

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