Kenta Maeda
(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Kenta Maeda Is An Ace For The Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins absolutely scored obtaining Kenta Maeda. They were able to produce a side to him that was never seen before. It took years for him to find it, but with proper coaching and advising, he was given the opportunity to be a Cy Young candidate. He was able to establish himself as a legitimate ace for the AL central team. He is vastly cheap and incredibly underrated.

Statistics

As a Los Angeles Dodgers in his first four years of Big League play, Maeda was good, yet not great like he was in Japan. In LA, he had a 3.87 earned run average with 47 wins and 35 losses. It was around 2017 when the Dodgers began to hone his abilities toward bullpen usage where he really shone posting a 1.64 ERA in those appearances. The Minnesota Twins admired it from afar.

Then a 2019 offseason trade led the Japanese right-hander to Minnesota. He took off immediately in the shortened 2020 season, becoming one of the American League’s premier starters. Maeda went six and one with a career-low 2.70 Earned Run Average. He also led the majors in WHIP with .750. He finished runner-up in Cy Young voting.

Adjustments

Many baseball websites project Maeda’s earned run average to range in 2021 between 2.65 and 4.27. This is the largest disparity amongst any pitcher. This is due to 2020 being a shortened season and his 4.04 ERA in 2019. What these websites don’t talk about is Maeda’s adjustments he made to lefthanders in 2020. He was already one of the best against righties with Los Angeles but in 2020 focused on lefties. Maeda threw his slider a lot more which helped his case against southpaws. He also backed off of his fastball, relying on his dominant offspeed pitches, which really benefits him.

Overview

2021 will be an opportunity to show off these new skills. Kenta Maeda has seemed to figure it out. Let’s see how a follow-up to 2020 will take place. Expect him to have an ERA below three and perhaps 15 wins if all goes well.

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