Kenta Maeda from Day 1

C.J. Nitkowski pointed out here that things will change when Maeda has to adapt to a different ball and a shorter rotation in MLB. How well is he going to do?

A long-time MLB scout who has watched Kenta Maeda since he turned pro, talked recently about the new Dodger’s tools.

He’s not that power arm guy that’s going to get swings and misses all the time. (His game is locating) to the bat rather than away from the bat, where as (Nippon Ham Fighters ace Shohei) Otani is away from the bat. Otani is about 10-12 strikeouts a game, whereas Kenta Maeda is about six-to-eight, and get a lot of ground balls.

He’s knows himself as a pitcher and I’ve seen him pitch without his best stuff on a given day and he still gives you the opportunity to win. To me, that’s a pitcher, rather than just a thrower, you know, throw harder and harder. Maeda can figure a way to get off the bat head and get outs.

Masahiro Tanaka had to learn about the tendencies of hitterrs (in the majors) and that’s something Maeda’s going to have to learn.

The adjustments to the rotation and other things are up to Maeda. He has to find his niche. If anybody can make the adjustments he can.

That’s from an outsider.

Before Marty Brown moved on to manage Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma with the Pacific League’s Rakuten Eagles in 2010, he told me about his first impression of Maeda, who became the understudy of  Hiroki Kuroda with the Hiroshima Carp and eventually that team’s ace.

“The first thing you noticed was his arm strength,” Brown said in a 2009 interview. “He could stand on one side of the field and throw it to the other side effortlessly. He had an extreme looseness to his ability to his ability to get out in front and release the ball and really throw it a long way. He was way more advanced than a lot of kids his age. He was only 17. You could tell that he caught on things really quickly. He could be doing a mound or a bullpen and he had a real good feel for figuring things out. His aptitude was in some ways was a lot more advanced.

“(When he turned pro) he had a big rolling curveball. He had a slider. Really good fastball command. we gave him a changeup and within about three pitches he could do about whatever he wanted with it.”

Hiroki Kuroda and a number of foreign pitchers here in Japan have also commented on how being a starter in Japan is much easier. Not only is the rotation longer, but NPB rules allow for a 28-man active roster, with 25 on the bench for each game. That means that for every game, three starting pitchers who are between starts are through at the end of pregame practice, they can go home. They don’t have to wait until the end of a 16-inning game to get rested up for their start the next day, since Japanese games end after 12 innings.

Author: jballa5_wp

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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