Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi knows that a good night's rest is essential to peak performance. Unfortunately for Kikuchi, he "only" got 11 hours of slumber before leaving his start against the New York Yankees with neck stiffness.
Kikuchi got the start against the Yankees on Tuesday night, and he was rock solid through five innings. He held New York to just one run while striking out seven batters. In the top of the sixth inning, Kikuchi left the game with a neck cramp.
The injury doesn't appear to be anything that will keep Kikuchi out long-term, as long as he can get some more sleep before his next start. Kikuchi told reporters that his neck might have been stiff because he got just 11 hours of sleep on Monday night.
"I only got 11 hours of sleep so maybe that's affecting this cramping today," Kikuchi said through an interpreter, according to Yahoo Sports.
That prompted the follow-up question about how much sleep Kikuchi normally gets before one of his starts. Per Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic, Kikuchi prefers to sleep for 13 or 14 hours. In those cases, he tends to go to bed at 11:00 p.m. and wakes up around 1:00 p.m. the next day.
Whatever Kikuchi is doing with his sleep schedule, it seems to be working for him. Now in his second season with the Blue Jays, Kikuchi has posted an ERA of 3.74 with 170 strikeouts and a 10-6 record.