The lowdown on Japanese righty Kodai Senga

December 11th, 2022

Kodai Senga, one of the top pitchers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, is on his way to Major League Baseball. The Mets agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with the free-agent right-hander on Dec. 10, a source told's Mark Feinsand.

Here’s what you need to know about Senga:

Birthdate: Jan. 30, 1993 (Age 30 in 2023)
Primary position: P
Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 178 lbs.
Bats/throws: Left/right
Place of birth: Gamagori, Aichi, Japan

2022 (NPB): 11-6, 1.94 ERA, 156 K, 27 BB in 144 IP
Career (NPB): 87-44, 2.59 ERA, 1,252 K, 414 BB in 1,089 IP

While Senga’s NPB stats are outstanding, the number that might draw the most attention is 101.9 -- reportedly the peak velocity Senga reached in 2022. According to a scouting report from Sports Info Solutions’ Will Hoefer in 2019, Senga saw his average fastball velocity jump to 95-96 mph (from 92 mph previously) during the 2019 season while routinely touching 98-99 mph.

Besides the typical concerns associated with NPB players making the transition to Major League Baseball, there are some questions about whether Senga has the command and arsenal to be a long-term starter in MLB, or whether he’d be better suited for a high-leverage relief role.

His signature pitch has a spooky name
While Senga can light up the radar gun, his signature pitch is actually his deceptive splitter/forkball. With a tendency to disappear from view, the pitch has earned the nickname “Ghost Fork.” It's scary stuff for opposing hitters.

He has a no-hitter and a Triple Crown on his resume
Senga tossed the 91st regular-season no-hitter in NPB history against the Chiba Lotte Marines, striking out 12 batters in the process. It was part of an outstanding 2019 season in which he posted a 2.79 ERA with a career-high 227 strikeouts over 180 1/3 innings.

The following season, Senga led NPB's Pacific League in wins, ERA and K's to win the pitching Triple Crown.

He's an Olympic gold medalist
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo marked the first time since 2008 that baseball was featured as an Olympic sport. Host Japan defeated the United States 2-0 in the Gold Medal Game, with Senga throwing a scoreless sixth inning in relief to protect a one-run lead.

He’s been itching to pitch in MLB
If the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks didn’t have a strict policy against putting their players through the NPB-MLB posting system, Senga might have come to America years ago. Alas, his requests to be posted were denied on multiple occasions, meaning he had to wait to reach nine years of service time to become an unrestricted free agent. Senga actually signed a five-year contract with Softbank in 2021, but the deal gave him the opportunity to opt out after one year.

"As a ballplayer, it's essential to live my life always aiming higher," he told reporters after signing his new contract, indicating his intention to chase his MLB dream after 2022. "My thinking on that has not wavered."