Kodai Senga - 2022 Mets Starter

Kodai Senga was born January 30, 1993, in Gamagori on the island of Honshu in Japan.

The six-foot two right hander has a three-quarter delivery with a fastball that averages 96mph & can top out at 100mph. He masters a tricky forkball, known as "Ghost fork" in Japan. He also throws a cutter & slider.

Senga has been a pitcher since his high school days. In 1993 at the age of 17 he was drafted as a developmental player by the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. 

The Developmental Player System: allows a player to be held for the purpose of training
separately from the registered players under control of a team in the Nipon Pro League (NPL). 

By 2012 he signed a $4.4 million deal to be under the team's control. He worked with Kazuki Yoshimi of the Chunichi Dragons who is known for his control.

In 2013 an illness kept him out for the early part of the season. When he did arrive, he pitched as a reliever, used as a setup man to closer & former New York Met Ryota Igarashi. Senga earned his first & only win that year in relief. 

Scoreless Innings Streak: He tied a Pacific League record for 34.2 innings without allowing a run. 

He made that years All Star team but got sidelined with a strain ending his season in early September. He went 1-4 with 17 holds one save posting a 2.40 ERA while striking out 85 batters in 56.1 innings of work. The next season a shoulder injury limited him to just 19 games where he posted a 1.99 ERA. The injury kept him out for most of the 2015 season as well.

2015 Japan Series: In the Japan Series victory over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Senga was the losing pitcher in relief in Game #3 in Tokyo. In that game Tetsuto Yamada of Yakult, became the first player to hit HRs in three straight plate appearances in a Japan Series. Senga also pitched in Game #4 getting a hold. The Fukuoka Hawks won the series four games to one.

Starting Pitcher: In 2016 he converted to being a starting pitcher onto one of the best pitching
staffs in the league. Senga went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA (third in the league) posting 181 strike outs (second in the league) in 169 innings. The 12 wins were a record for a development squad pitcher. 

The next year he won the 2017 Winning Percentage Championship with a .756% going 13-4 (fourth in the league in wins) with 151 Ks (5th in he league) in 143 innings of work & a 2.64 ERA (third in the league). He made another All-Star team getting the start. He walked the first batter then retired six in a row in his outing. His team made it to the Japan Series for the second straight year.

Trivia: The SoftBank Hawks would win four straight Japan Series from 2017 to 2020.

2017 Japan Series: The Softbank Hawks beat the Yokohama DeNA BayStars four games to two to win their second title in three years. Senga was the first developmental player to start a Game #1 in the Japan Series. He earned the win pitching seven shutout innings, scattering four hits in the teams 10-1 victory.

In 2018 he pitched his first Opening Day & later that year recorded his first shutout. He went 13-7 (third in the league in wins) with a 3.51 ERA, striking out 163 batters (second in the league) in 141 innings in 22 games pitched. That year he gave up a league leading 21 HRs.

2018 Japan Series: The Hawks finished second to the Seibu Lions but beat them in Final Stage of their playoff rounds. This year in the Japan Series the Softbank Hawks defeated the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in five games. 

Senga got the Game #1 start, allowing two runs in four innings of work, while striking out five. The game ended in a 2-2 tie after 12 innings. He returned in Game #5 pitching 5.2 innings allowing two runs, on four hits three walks & four K's. Softbank Hawks won the game in the bottom of the 10th inning, with a walk off HR from Yuki Yanagita.

In 2019 he attempted to get the Hawks to post him to MLB, but it did not happen. The posting system began in 1998 & allows a player transfer from the NPA to MLB. That year he made his third All Star team start in a row. In the Game he struck out three allowing no runs on three hits. 

That season he won 13 games for the third straight year (13-8) with a 2.79 ERA (third best in the
league), striking out a career high 227 batters (best in the league) in 180 innings (most in the league). He also posted two shut outs, most in the league & led the league in walks. He also won a Gold Glove & a Best Nine Award at Pitcher, coming in 5th in the overall MVP voting.

No Hitter: On September 6th he pitched his first career no hitter. It came against the Chiba Lotte Marines. It was only the second in team's history & the first since 1943. 

2019 Japan Series: Although the Hawks finished second again, they beat the first place Seibu Lions in the Final Stage round to get for the second straight year to get to the Japan Series. In the Japan Series his Hawks swept the Yomuri Giants in four games. 

In Game #1 Senga pitched seven innings allowing one run, a HR, on just three hits to earn the 7-2 win. He struck out five & walked three in the game at the Fukuoka Dome.

Triple Crown for Pitching: In the 2020 Covid 19 shortened season, he had one of his best years,
winning the pitching triple crown, leading the Pacific League in Win-loss record, wins (11-6) & ERA (2.16) while tying for most Strikeouts (149). If he had any negatives, it was some control issues walking 57 batters (most in the league).

Senga once again was a Gold Glove & Best Nine Award winner at pitcher, coming in second overall i the MVP voting. That November he recorded his 1000th career strike out as well. He did not get posted again but earned a 100 million Yen raise for the next season.

2020 Japan Series: This year the Softbank Hawks did finish first & rolled thru the Climax Series defeating the Lions once again. In a Japan Series rematch with the Giants, they swept them once again to win their 12th straight game in the Japan Series dating back to 2018.

Senga made his fourth straight Japan Series opening start in Game #1. He pitched seven shutout innings striking out six & walking three batters to earn the 5-1 win.

In 2021 his team failed to make the post season for the first time in nine years. Although he suffered thru injuries, he still went 10-1 in the 13 games he pitched (sixth most wins in the league) & struck out 90 in 84.2 innings. He signed a five-year deal that would allow him International free agency after the 2022 season!

In 2022 he went 11-6 (second in the league in wins) in 22 games, with a career best 1.91 ERA as a starter. He finished .26 points behind Yamamoto for the ERA title. He struck out 156 batters (second in the league) in 144 innings pitched. 

2022 Post Season: That year the Softbank Hawks returned to the post season & won the First Stage round but lost to the Orix Buffaloes in four games in the Final Stage Climax Series. Senga was the winner in Game #3 the only game the Hawks won. 

He pitched six scoreless innings, striking out five with just three hits allowed.

Japan Stats: In his 11-year career he is 104-51 (.671 winning %) with a 2.42 ERA. He has struck out 1486 batters walked 509 & hit 37 batters in 1340 innings pitched with a 1.12 WHIP. He has struck out 28% of batters he has faced in his career. Senga has made 275 appearances, earned two saves.

Honors: He has won five championships, made three All Star teams won two Gold Gloves & two Best Nine Awards. Senga also led the league in strikeouts twice & once in Wins, Winning %, ERA & innings pitched. 

MLB- Mets Career: In December of 2022 he was signed by the New York Mets, with a five-year $75 million contract. He joins a Mets staff of new additions Justin Verlander & Jose Quintana who were also signed in December after the departure of Jacob deGrom. 

Senga is not married & has no children. He will be 30 years old in January 2023.


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