Mets’ Kodai Senga again states case in National League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year races

Jul 15, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Citi Field.

Right-hander Kodai Senga has been phenomenal for the Mets in his debut season.

After a bit of a rough patch early on, he’s settled in and has been absolutely dominant of late. That continued in New York’s 11-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.

Senga took advantage of the late afternoon shadows, allowing just a Tommy Pham single and striking out six his first time through the order.

He then went on a stretch in which he retired 13 batters in a row. The righty reached the double-digit mark in strikeouts by the fifth inning, but he began to run out of steam in the sixth.

Senga allowed a leadoff single and back-to-back two-out walks, loading the bases for Christian Walker. He needed just two pitches to get the powerful first baseman to fly out, ending the inning and his outing on a high note.

Overall, Senga allowed just two hits while walking two and striking out 10 over six shutout innings. Though he was happy with the results, he told reporters postgame he was hoping to work a little deeper.

“Alvy did a good job leading me to this point and through the sixth inning," he said through an interpreter. "But to be honest I wanted to go to the seventh and get through the seventh. I think that will continue my season into next year and develop me a lot."

Senga still pitched well enough to earn his 11th win and his 15th quality start of the season. He’s allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 consecutive outings and has reached double-digit strikeouts in three of his last four.

Senga now sits third in the NL with a 2.95 ERA, among qualified starters, and seventh with 191 strikeouts, to go along with a 1.21 WHIP (11th in NL). His signature ghost forkball has been one of the most effective pitches in all of baseball generating a 60 percent whiff rate, 58.8 percent K-rate and 20.4 percent hard-hit rate.

With his stretch of dominance, the All-Star has been throwing his name square in the mix for the National League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year races. If you ask his manager, he's certainly making an extremely strong case.

"He’s got to be thought about, he’s got to be somebody that’s in the discussion," Buck Showalter said postgame. "He’s certainly been doing his part over the last two or three starts.

“He’s been this way from the get-go. He’s grounded and doesn’t take himself too seriously and he’s focused and very driven. He’s been a great addition, that’s a good signing by our guys.”

When asked about his chances of taking home either award, Senga laughed and said he "doesn't know." For him, he's just glad to remain available each time his turn comes up in the rotation and he's hoping to be able to finish his first MLB campaign on a high note.

"Early in the season I had extra days of rest and I wasn’t full go in the rotation. I was able to stay healthy because of that and I think that’s what’s led to a good season so far," he said.

"I have a few more starts left, I just want to get through this season healthy."