Kodai Senga #34 of the Mets prepares to throw his first...

Kodai Senga #34 of the Mets prepares to throw his first pitch of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

For the first time in his first season in the major leagues, Kodai Senga is about to pitch on a normal American schedule.

He will face the Blue Jays on Sunday, the Mets announced Friday, which will be five days after his previous outing. Pitching for Toronto that day: lefthander Yusei Kikuchi, his fellow Japan native.

Because Senga usually got into one game a week during his decade-plus as a professional in Japan, the Mets eased him in for his first two months. Comfortable with his acclimation so far, including his recovery between starts, they decided now was a chance to try him on four days’ rest.

“That was the whole idea, sooner or later,” Showalter said. “We’ve been more than cautious with it. We thought it was something he’d eventually be able to do, but we didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Senga, who largely has avoided publicly expressing opinions about his schedule, is “very open to it as well,” GM Billy Eppler said. “That’s a major factor.”

His most recent outing was his best: seven one-hit shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks, which was a first for him, against the Phillies. Overall, Senga, 30, has a 3.44 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 10 games.

Using Senga on regular rest comes with a couple of potential perks. It allows him to pitch again at Citi Field, where he has a 1.20 ERA, instead of on the road, where it’s 6.12. It also allows the Mets to line up Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to face not only first-place Atlanta next week but the Yankees the week after.

Showalter said neither of those variables factored into the decision. Instead, the Mets have been focused solely on Senga’s workload, including paring down his between-starts routine.

“We modified his work days, we modified how many pitches he throws,’’ Showalter said. “They got clickers every time he cocks his arm. We’re taking all the steps you can possibly take, but there’s only one more to take.”

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