The day that Kodai Senga had been waiting for has finally come.
After years of asking the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to be posted, and having his continued requests shot down, Senga now controls his own destiny. He is reportedly set to trigger the opt-out clause in his contract as he looks to pursue opportunities stateside.
Kodai Senga finally getting his chance to head to majors
He is heading over at the right time. The Hawks’ star pitcher has another incredible season in 2022, posting a 1.94 ERA and a 1.056 WHiP over his 144 innings, striking out 156 batters with 49 walks. This continued a stellar run for Senga since he joined the Hawks’ rotation back in 2015 as he has proven he can be a dominant starter.
Senga certainly has the type of stuff to find success. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and explodes on opposing batters, a plus offering that overpowers even the best hitters in Japan. His splitter is another plus offering, generating plenty of swings and misses. He also has a cutter and a slider although both offerings are considered fringy at best. However, with his excellent command as part of the package, both pitches do play above their actual level.
His fastball and splitter also give Senga a stellar floor. He had worked as a reliever for the Hawks at the beginning of his career and could find his way back into that type of a role. Senga could be a dominant late inning option, potentially taking over as a closer if his slider and cutter fail to work at the major league level.
However, any interested teams are likely to give Senga a look in the rotation first. At worst, he should be an excellent third starter, someone who could be a solid second option on a team eyeing a playoff berth. His arsenal and track record of success in Nippon Professional Baseball make him someone to watch this offseason.
Kodai Senga is finally on the cusp of getting his wish. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks is set to opt out of his contract and become an international free agent.