Kikuchi’s curveball was supposed to be one of his better pitches. However, that did not show this year as batters racked up 24 hits in 68 at-bats (.353 average) with five of those going for a homerun. He was not able to get batters to swing as often as he’d like as the pitch generated an underwhelming 4% swinging strike rate, the lowest of all his pitches.
The fastball was Kikuchi’s most used pitch, but just like with his curveball, he struggled a lot with the long ball, allowing a whopping 19. While he did throw it for a strike 65% of the time, he struggled with its command in counts when he needed it the most as he gave up 28 walks for an overall walk rate of 9% by the end of the season.
The slider was Kikuchi’s most used breaking pitch this year, and with good reason as it accumulated the most strikeouts of any pitch in his arsenal (57) while also containing batters to a .262 batting average and a .336 wOBA. The high strike rate at which he was throwing it (67%) can be explained by the fact that batters were chasing it outside of the zone which is seen in the high O-swing rate of 47%.
Kikuchi’s primary pitch is his heater, which he throws half the time when he’s on the mound. It gets good rising action and sits in the low-90s speed range.
Kikuchi offers two secondary pitches that he throws about equally, the first of which is his curveball. The pitch breaks quickly on hitters making it difficult for them to keep up with it.
The second of Kikuchi’s breaking balls is his slider, which is a lethal strikeout pitch. So far he’s thrown it for a strikeout in 46% of PAs at a velocity of 86 mph.
We’ve only seen Kikuchi throw his curveball in the majors six times, but it gets nice armside movement and both balls in play on the pitch were recorded for outs.