It’s fairly common for pitchers to improve their strikeout-to-walk ratios as they mature, and Yusei Kikuchi has done that and more.
A guy who was once ripped by his manager for pitching without telling the team about shoulder twinges he felt from an old injury — “This isn’t kindergarten. He’s got to grow up and act like a professional” — has improved along a growth curve like one sabermatricians fantasize about, becoming Japan’s most consistent strike thrower.
He’s not only become hard to hit in the zone, he’s been hard to lay off when he goes out of the zone. Good luck!
Here’s my latest story for Kyodo News.