For all the baseball forecast enthusiasts looking for a few interesting predictions, the folks over at FanGraphs have finally put together a player page, including Steamer projections, for new Dodgers’ righty Kenta Maeda.
In terms of the more standard stats, the indicators have Maeda starting 29 games, compiling a 11-10 record with a 3.55 ERA over 178.0 innings pitched. A few of the advanced metrics reveal a 3.66 FIP, a 2.7 WAR, a 1.19 WHIP alongside a 7.73 K/9 and a 2.08 BB/9.
The majority of the pundits, including Maeda himself, seem to be shrugging off any potential elbow issues which led to a delay in agreeing on a contract back in December. The fact that the deal only guarantees Maeda approximately $3 million per year provides the Dodgers with some protection against such an injury, yet Maeda has expressed confidence in his ability to stay healthy and ultimately eclipse the 200 innings pitched mark in 2016.
Since signing with the Dodgers, Maeda has been very busy gearing up for the 2016 campaign and making final preparations for spring training. Amidst all the bustle, he managed to find time to spend with fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda, who gave him several lessons on developing a new type of slider. Maeda calls it a “front door” slider, which is designed to break late and tail back inside towards right-handed batters.
Scouts who saw him throw at the Premier 12 tournament in November believe that Maeda’s off-speed arsenal has made dramatic improvements. He’s always depended heavily on his “traditional” slider, but the changeup he showed at the tourney was considered borderline nasty and almost unhittable when located properly. Maeda has always prided himself on his command, and if he can continue to develop his changeup and slider variations along with maintaining a relatively consistent fastball, he may even project to be a legitimate #3 starter or above as the season progresses.
Baseball America‘s Ben Badler agrees with the off-speed development and recently posted a scouting report (subscription required) on Maeda, which he offered the following analysis (excerpt):
“Maeda has shown solid stuff across the board, with a fastball that sits at 89-93 mph and can touch 94, a tick above-average slider that he leans on heavily, along with a curveball and a changeup … While Maeda’s slider is usually his go-to secondary pitch, his best offspeed weapon in two starts against Mexico and Puerto Rico was his changeup.”
Kenta Maeda was born in 1988 in Osaka and was drafted by the Hiroshima Carp in the fall of 2006. In 2010, Maeda won the Sawamura Award — Japan’s equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young Award — when he led the Central League in wins, strikeouts and lowest ERA. His career statistics in Nippon Professional Baseball over eight seasons include 97 wins, 67 losses, a 2.39 ERA and over 1200 strikeouts.
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