Yusei Kikuchi started a Phoenix League game against Samsung on October 9 and tossed three shutout innings. He faced nine batters, threw thirty-one pitches, struck out seven, and topped out at 155km/h. Kikuchi is expected to start the first game of the Final Stage of the Climax Series.0 Comments
The Seibu Lions are planning to post Yusei Kikuchi after the season. Sources close to the situation have indicated that the Lions have already agreed to allow Kikuchi to pursue his dreams of playing in the Majors. Kikuchi could formally select an agent after the regular season. Agent possibilities are said to include Scott Boras, Arn Tellem, and the Wasserman Media Group.
Scouts from teams that have appeared at Kikuchi’s games include the Phillies, Padres, Dodgers, Royals, Red Sox, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Giants, Brewers, Rangers, Rays, and Indians. Nikkan Gendai believes the Padres and Dodgers are the current front runners.
Incidentally, with regards to the media reports about Kikuchi and the Majors this season, Kikuchi told Daily Sports:
This season, I found it difficult when conversations were about the number of MLB scouts that came. I didn’t want any articles about me wanting to go to the MLB to come out. I didn’t want people to misunderstand and think that I was doing all this to appeal [to the scouts]. I just wanted to win a pennant. And when things don’t go well, people start thinking, “Yusei, are you focusing on the Majors?” It was difficult because I didn’t want my teammates to think that way.
I have wanted to go to the Majors for a long time. But it wasn’t a reality, it was just something to see on TV. After I won nine games in my sixth year, I went to Dodgers Stadium for the first time. I saw [Clayton] Kershaw pitch and at that moment I thought, I will regret it if I die without ever pitching [in the Majors]. This was the moment things changed from “I want to go” to “I will go.” I decided I had to tell the team, so I brought it up during contract negotiations that year.
According to a report by Nikkan Sports, the Seibu Lions are leaning towards agreeing to post twenty-seven-year-old Yusei Kikuchi after the 2018 season. The Lions have dropped statements over the last couple of years indicating they would be open to posting the ace based on his performance. Team official Haruhiko Suzuki told reporters on August 16 that they have made no promises, have not spoken directly to Kikuchi, and will not discuss individual issues until after the season.
Kikuchi has posted decent numbers (9-2, 101 K, 33 BB, 112.2 IP, 3.20 ERA) despite struggling with left shoulder issues earlier in the year. The Lions have also played well and are currently in first place in the Pacific League (the second place Fighters are 5.5 games back).
[UPDATE 8/18 @ 11:57am]
Eighteen scouts from twelve NPB teams, including the Brewers, were at Kikuchi’s start against Nippon Ham on August 17.0 Comments
Yusei Kikuchi was taken off the active roster on May 6 because of tightness in his left shoulder. The condition is not new (may have originated with neck pain from sleeping wrong back in March 14) and is also not considered serious (no pain, just tightness). He will be examined at a hospital as a precaution.
Kikuchi threw 104 pitches and allowed five runs over six innings during his last start on May 4. The Seibu Lions decided to take Kikuchi off the active roster after confirming the condition of his shoulder the following day on May 5.
[UPDATE 5/10 @ 3:59am]
Kikuchi was examined at a hospital in Tokyo on May 8 and diagnosed with decreased functionality in his shoulder. He will spend some time strengthening his shoulder and ultimately hopes to make it back to Ichi-gun in two to three weeks.
[UPDATE 5/26 @ 7:38am]
Kikuchi pitched in a Ni-gun game against Yakult on May 25. He allowed three runs (none earned) on four hits over two innings of work. He threw forty-seven pitches, struck out four, and topped out at 154km/h.0 Comments
Yusei Kikuchi started an exhibition game against the Chunichi Dragons on March 14. He was slated to throw around 100 pitches but left after one inning and twenty-one pitches. The media later learned that the Seibu Lions pulled Kikuchi from the game as a precaution because of a tight neck (he slept on it wrong). Assuming no issues, his next game could come on March 23 against Yokohama.0 Comments
Tatsushi Masuda is set to take over as the Seibu Lions new chief player representative. An official announcement will be made during a player meeting.
Source: Sanspo 11/28/2017
[UPDATE 11/30 @ 4:14am]
The Lions released their complete list of player representative officials on November 29.
Source: Seibu 11/29/20170 Comments
Tomoyuki Sugano, Yomiuri (Fifth Time)
5 G, 4-0, 38.0 IP, 0.47 ERA, 26 SO, 2 ER, 2 CG, 1 ShO
Sugano notched his third MVP of the Month this season. He led the league in wins (tied with Joe Wieland) and ERA in September/October. He recorded two complete games, including a shutout, in five starts. He allowed earned runs in only one start. The five MVP of the Month awards ties the Yomiuri record for pitchers set by Masaki Saito. The three MVP of the Month awards in one season ties the league record for pitchers set by Masahiro Yamamoto in 1993.
Ryuhei Matsuyama, Hiroshima (First Time)
20 G, .408 AVG, 29 H, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Matsuyama batted clean-up in twenty September/October games. He led the league in hits and posted a .480 batting average with runners in scoring position. He helped the team put together a 16-5 record in September/October.
Yusei Kikuchi, Seibu (FirstTime)
4 G, 3-0, 31.0 IP, 0.29 ERA, 1 ShO, 37 SO, 1 ER
Kikuchi pitched in four games in September/October and went 3-0 with a shutout. He led the league with a 0.29 ERA. He tossed a four-hit shutout with ten strikeouts against Lotte on September 7, allowed a run (unearned) on four hits and struck out eleven over eight innings against Rakuten on September 14, pitched sixth shutout innings against Lotte on September 21, and gave up three runs (one earned) over eight innings against Rakuten on October 3.
Hotaka Yamakawa, Seibu (Second Time)
25 G, .326 AVG, 30 H, 10 HR, 19 RBI
Yamakawa played in twenty-five games in September/October and led the league in home runs, runs (19), total bases (68), and slugging percentage (.739). He recorded multiple hits in ten games and two or more RBI in six games. He is the fourth player in league history to win MVP of the Month awards for two consecutive months. The other three: Doug Jennings (July and August 1995), Ichiro (June and July 1998), and Yuki Yanagita (August and September 2015).
Source: NPB 10/17/20170 Comments
Yusei Kikuchi left his start on September 21 against Lotte at MetLife Dome after six innings and eighty-three pitches because he was not feeling well and had a mild fever. He told reporters he developed the fever a few days before his start. He said his fever ended up affecting the team and blamed himself for not taking better care of his own health.0 Comments
Yusei Kikuchi was called for throwing with a two-step delivery during tonight’s (August 24) game against the Softbank Hawks at YafuOku Dome. This was the third time umpires called him on a two-step delivery (twice during his last start on August 17). The Seibu Lions are planning to file a notice with the NPB.
The Lions did not file a notice with the NPB after the first two calls on August 17. They did receive an explanation from the umpiring department and asked for more consistency from them. Kikuchi and the coaches spent time in between starts to make adjustments to his delivery.
The Lions feel Kikuchi is unfairly being called on the two-step delivery and cannot understand why the calls are happening now. The umpires have explained that Kikuchi’s delivery has changed since opening day and that that is the reason why they are making the calls now.
[UPDATE 8/26 @ 12:55am]
Masato Tomoyose, NPB chief of umpires, told reporters that Kikuchi’s delivery was clean between April and May and slowly started around mid-June and that they warned him about it a number of times. To them, the calls were not being made all of a sudden.
Kikuchi does not think his delivery has changed since May. He does remember being warned on at least two occasions — once on May 12 and another time on August 10.
The Lions submitted a formal list of questions to the NPB on August 25.
[UPDATE 8/26 @ 10:55am]
The umpires started warning Kikuchi about his delivery in mid-June. They warned him in July when things started getting worse. After that, umpires were told to keep an eye on his delivery during an umpire meeting.
The Lions are wondering why the umpires never directly informed them.
Source: Sanspo 8/26/2017
[UPDATE 8/27 @ 9:18pm]
Tomoyose visited MetLife Dome today and met Kikuchi, Hatsuhiko Tsuji, Pitching Coach Yoshihiro Doi, and Lions’ Director Haruhiko Suzuki to discuss his two-step delivery. Kikuchi apparently asked Tomoyose to clarify what constitutes an illegal delivery. He is planning to go back to the delivery that was considered okay in April.
The Lions list of questions likely included the following three questions:
Kikuchi and the Lions only heard specifically about a hitch in his leg movement after his start on August 25 against Softbank. He was never told about the movement after his warning on August 10.
Tomoyose offered an apology for not providing Kikuchi an explanation after his warning on August 10. He also said he assumed the umpire in question spoke to Kikuchi directly.
[UDPATE 8/28 @ 6:50pm]
Kikuchi warning on May 12 was not shared with other umpires.
The Lions are basically pushing three things with their questions: teams should also be notified when players are warned about their deliveries; appropriate explanations should be provided so that players at least have a chance to make adjustments; there should be a standard rule that every umpire follows (as of now, it is left to the discretion of umpires).
The Lions also want full the NPB’s reply in writing, since they submitted their questions in writing.
[UPDATE 8/29 @ 11:37pm]
The Lions informed the media today that they received a reply from the NPB in writing. They were not fully satisfied with the reply, but are planning to move on since Kikuchi has already stated that he wants to follow the rules and make whatever changes are necessary.
Source: Sponichi 8/29/20170 Comments
Yusei Kikuchi turned in a solid performance against the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome tonight. He gave up a run on three hits, including a home run, over eight innings of work. He threw 115 pitches, faced twenty-eight batters, walked one, and struck out eleven. He also set a new NPB velocity record for Japanese left-handed pitchers by topping 158km/h on his sixth pitch to Zelous Wheeler in the fifth inning.
Note: Hiroyuki Kawahara also topped 158km/h, but it was during a Ni-gun game against Chunichi on July 28, 2012.0 Comments