The newest member of the New York Mets didn't waste any time inserting himself into one of baseball's best rivalries.
Monday, the Mets introduced Kodai Senga, who they signed to a five-year/$75 million contract earlier this month. While Senga used a translator for much of the press conference, Will Sammon of The Athletic says that he responded in English when asked about who he's looking forward to pitching against.
"The Phillies lineup."
In a break-off session after the press conference, Senga specifically mentioned two-time National League MVP Bryce Harper and reigning NL home run leader Kyle Schwarber as two players he's looking forward to facing after watching from afar.
He'll have to wait to face Harper, who will miss the beginning of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November. But even without Harper, the defending NL Champions appear to have a pretty imposing lineup on paper.
Trea Turner joined the Phillies on an 11-year/$300 million deal, which will give them a chance to have one of the best lineups in team history once Harper does return in 2023. In addition to Turner, Harper and Schwarber, the Phillies also employ J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins. Rob Thomson's lineup will become that much scarier if Nick Castellanos bounces back after a disappointing first season in red pinstripes and/or if the young trio of Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh continues to improve.
But while the Mets have seen Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and new Phillie Taijuan Walker depart this offseason, their starting rotation still projects to be one of the best in baseball.
Senga was 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA across 144 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan last season. His signature "Ghost Fork" pitch was part of what made him one of the offseason's most intriguing free agents.
Additionally, the Mets signed three-time American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and veteran lefty José Quintana this offseason. Those two will join a rotation that includes Senga and future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer.
The Phillies and Mets won't meet for the first time in 2023 until a three-game set at Citi Field which begins on May 30. But when you start to think about the NL East race -- which, of course, will also include the five-time defending champion Atlanta Braves -- it's hard not to get excited for next season.