Yusei Kikuchi has already experienced some highs and lows in his first season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Wednesday's performance against the Kansas City Royals certainly fell in the latter category.
The hard-throwing starting pitcher failed to make it out of the first inning, allowing three runs on two hits while walking four batters. His abysmal outing forced the Toronto bullpen to cover the rest of the game en route to an 8-4 loss.
After the game, Kikuchi shared his disappointment that he couldn't do more to help his teammates.
“I think, as a starting pitcher, it's our job to be able to make our adjustments,” Kikuchi told reporters through an interpreter. “In the first inning, obviously, I threw a lot of balls, wasn't in the zone that often. But typically I'm able to bounce back and make my adjustments in the game and keep our team in the ball game. But today, unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that.
"I feel really bad that I let my teammates down today.”
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was blunt with his assessment of Kikuchi's showing, which was a far cry from Montoyo's usual positivity.
“He was just not good today. That's all I can say," Montoyo said.
#BlueJays Charlie Montoyo on Yusei Kikuchi: "He was just not good today. That's all I can say."
Kikuchi, who made better adjustments last time he struggled: "Today, I wasn't able to do that. I feel really bad that I let my teammates down."
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) June 8, 2022
Kikuchi signed a three-year, $36-million deal with the Blue Jays in the offseason. Toronto knew it was rolling the dice with the move, and the 30-year-old has come as advertised thus far.
Through 11 starts, the native of Japan holds a 4.44 ERA with strong strikeout numbers but a high walk rate. He has failed to complete five innings in six of those appearances.
On the flip side, he has surrendered two runs or fewer in each of the five outings where he's managed to get through five frames. All told, the Blue Jays are 3-8 in games he starts.
Toronto's coaching staff is surely heading back to the lab to try to figure out how to help the 2021 All-Star find some consistency. With Hyun Jin Ryu on the injured list, the Blue Jays need some stability from Kikuchi to avoid overworking their relief corps.
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