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Jays' Kikuchi feeling weight of trade deadline: 'It’s a difficult time right now'

Yusei Kikuchi Yusei Kikuchi - The Canadian Press

The Toronto Blue Jays are falling out of the playoff race and the noise is being turned up on rumours ahead of the trade deadline. 

Starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi admitted after Wednesday's start - a 9-2 loss to the Houston Astros - that he's feeling the weight of the uncertainty ahead of the July 30 deadline.

“It’s probably a difficult time for all of us,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter, per “Not just the position players, but myself included. I’m going out there with mixed feelings. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a difficult time right now.”

The 33-year-old left-hander is 4-8 this season with a 4.12 ERA and a WHIP of 1.31 over 18 starts this season. He is currently scheduled for unrestricted free agency this winter as he plays out the last of a three-year, $36 million deal signed with Toronto in 2022.

Kikuchi went 11-6 last season with a 3.86 ERA, helping the Blue Jays reach the playoffs for the third time in the past four years. With all of those appearances failing to result in a single win for the Blue Jays, the team was hoping to take a step forward this year.

“We came in with the mentality that we were aiming to get to the World Series and win the World Series,” Kikuchi said. “Obviously, it’s tough thinking about that. All we can do is prepare and be ready every game that we’re out there.”

Following Wednesday's loss, the Blue Jays are eight games out of the final wild-card spot, with five teams between them and the Kansas City Royals, who hold that spot.