Comparing Kenta Maeda To Hiroki Kuroda

Kenta Maeda

Dodger’s Japanese import Kenta Maeda has already been  impressing everyone in Dodger camp these days. Maeda recently threw a bullpen session and was quite effective, mixing his pitches and looking very sharp. Maeda threw four pitches (fastball, curve, changeup and slider) topping out at around 94-95 mph. Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal interestingly compared Maeda to former Dodger co-ace and traitor Zack Greinke.

However I would like to compare Maeda to a different former Dodger. You could compare Maeda to former Dodger and fellow former Hiroshima Carp right hander Hiroki Kuroda. Both Maeda and Kuroda pitched for the Carp but missed being each other’s teammate by one year. Kuroda started his legendary NPB career in 1997, pitching for the Carp from 97-2007 until returning to the Carp last season. Maeda pitched for the Carp from 2008-2015 before signing his 105 million dollar contract with the Dodgers this winter.

While Kuroda is more of a sinkerball ground ball pitcher, he too was able to throw a pretty sharp four-seam fastball that during his peak years reached anywhere from 92-94. Kuroda also had great off-speed offerings as well, which included a slider, and a curve.

Maeda was zipping 94-95 heaters with a slider, curve and change against Dodger hitters at Glendale. Grandal stated that Maeda was working both sides of the plate with ease, and that he was rocking in and out. His ability to use both sides of the plate is very encouraging. Maeda is more of a control pitcher than anything, but Kuroda was too.

Maeda in just eight full seasons in the NPB has won almost as many games as Kuroda has in his 12 NPB seasons. Maeda has a career 2.39 ERA in the NPB, while Kuroda’s ERA is a full run higher at 3.59. Ironically Kuroda wore number 18 during his time with the Dodgers, and guess who is wearing Kuroda’s old number 18 currently? That’s right, Maeda is.

NPB numbers

Maeda 97-67 2.39 ERA 7.5 H/9 7.4 K/9

Kuroda 114-97 3.59 ERA 9.0 H/9 6.6 K/9

As you can see Maeda’s hits per nine are lower than Kuroda’s and his strikeout per nine rate is lower as well. Maeda has given up less walks, hits, and struck out more batters per inning. Maeda has also posted 28 complete games and thrown over 1,500 innings in the NPB. It stands to reason that Maeda could be twice as good as Kuroda was with the Dodgers, and Kuroda was pretty damn effective.

Catching up with the former Dodger, Kuroda returned to the NPB with the Carp last season after pitching three seasons with the Yankees. As usual Kuroda was his solid self, posting another stellar campaign. Kuroda made 28 starts at the age of 40, while posting a 2.55 ERA and allowing just eight home runs. He was named the Central League all-star game starting pitcher for his outstanding efforts. That was his fifth NPB all-star selection. Despite being 41 years old the Japanese Hiro is not done yet. Kuroda just recently signed a 4.9 million dollar contract to pitch for the Carp in 2016. Making him one of Japan’s highest paid players. The 2016 season will be Kuroda’s 13 with the Carp and 20 professional season overall as he chases after his 200 career victory.

Kuroda was good, but Maeda could be even better. Maeda won the pitching Triple Crown over in the NPB. He also won what is the equivalent of two Cy Young awards during his time in the NPB. Think about that. I’ve always thought that Maeda was the jewel of the Dodger’s hot stove season. It appears he could become more than that. Maeda may become a legitimate co-ace. Of course we won’t ever stop complaining about losing Zack Greinke to the Dbacks because well, we love complaining. However Maeda may just help us complain a little less.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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60 thoughts on “Comparing Kenta Maeda To Hiroki Kuroda

  1. Hard to compare 2 guys until we have seen Maeda in actual MLB games….Kuroda was a lot older when he came to the Dodgers…so we will see…

      1. Yeah he did…fine….I will believe it when I see it if you do not mind. Predictions have turned out wrong before..for all we know he may be the second coming of Irabu…..that worked out well for the Yankees. I wish him the best, but until I SEE him do it against major league competition in games that count, I reserve the right to be skeptical. If he is as advertised, great…..better for the team.

  2. From the scouting reports I recall reading, Maeda didn’t really throw that hard – 89-92 range – and was successful because of his excellent control. If he’s consistently hitting 92-94 with life, that’s encouraging. I don’t know if those numbers are accurate, or if that was just Grandal’s guess as to his speed, but I read that some other Dodgers who took some at bats against him were impressed as well.

    We’ll see.

  3. Happy to see Maeda made it Camelback… Sierra also made it to camp and had a session off the mound… Time to play ball and see what we got!!!
    I used to be a lil cautious when catching someone for the first time… Protect the jewels and all exposed appendages…

    1. Yes, peterj, a man has to have his priorities!!! Being left-handed, I never caught, but, from 1st base I would grimace a little everytime I saw a curve bounce in dirt a foot in front of catcher.

      I bet you wished you had a spring loaded cup, like the new helmet Bumsrap posted..

  4. Agree Box; Kuroda type impact would be awesome

    Mark mentioned this yesterday, but we have had 2 new posts since, so I”ll mention it again: great article in the Times this am about Brett Anderson working on his soft tummy. A strong core is key. Hopefully is body is better this year, thus helping his pitching!

    1. Bobby, thanks for the heads up. Good article. I agree the core work should payoff.

      Regarding Anderson, Friedman said, “We felt really good about the risk that we took last year. We’re optimistic that there’s even another gear in there.”

      I am optimistic there is another gear in there also!

    2. In another article Anderson said he used to get more strike outs and less ground outs with the latter being less advantages for a guy that wasn’t the greatest defensive player. He also said that last year was the first year in the last few that he was healthy enough to also work on conditioning instead of just arm strength.
      .
      Good news for both Anderson and Maeda.

    3. Bobby I know when someone has a bad back it is good that they have a good core, but you see so many players, going out with core injuries now, that you never heard in baseball before. It makes me wonder, if there is to much done with cores today.

  5. Going back to the previous blog, the first Dodger I recall wearing #1 was a guy named Rick Auerbach. Anyone remember him?

    1. Michael Norris, I think everybody is holding their collective breaths on how this season will go and who will do well enough. I guess my point was that Scott just did a great job of comparing Maeda and Kuroda pre-MLB that gave us a little more confidence in Maeda’s ability.

  6. Dodger Digest had an article on Maeda yesterday, and they really tried to down play Maeda, in this article. Dodger Digest said in so many words, that Madea would be lucky at best, to be a number three pitcher, in a rotation, and that would be his highest upside. I thought that was selling Maeda way to short. We really won’t know until Maeda pitches, but why give him such a low and limited upside? After all, Maeda has not only been as good in Japan, as other japanese pitchers, that have been sucessful in the US, he has been even better in Japan, then these Japanese pitchers, that have made good, in the US. So why has Madea been down played so much? It really doesn’t make sense. I would also think, that it is better that the Dodgers are getting Maeda, at a younger age then Kuroda, because Maeda will have less innings on his arm, and elbow. This might keep Maeda more healthy, and keep Maeda pitching longer for the Dodgers. After all, he was signed to a eight year contract. Like I have written before, I think that Kazmir will be the number two, now that Ryu won’t be able to start until at least May. But I think once Madea gets some innings in, and games in, he will be higher in the Dodger’s rotation then Kazmir. And it is good, for the Dodgers, and Maeda himself, that Maeda will have the advantage on hitters, when he first faces them. Because this will help Maeda, to get the experience he will need, and this will give Maeda, the confidence that he will need to be successful. And this will help Maeda to get better as the season goes on. I think he is going to be fun to watch. Scott good article, keep up the good work!

  7. I cannot post half the time. It tells me I am not connected to the Internet. I know I am connected. When I go back everything is lost. Any suggestions.

    1. Al, this happens to me quite often as well. I have gotten into the habit of drafting my response/comments in Word, and then copy and paste to the reply box. That way when I get the message that This Page Cannot Be Displayed, I can re-copy and re-paste and not lose my comments.

      1. I type directly into the comment box and, if I remember, copy it so that I can paste it again later. I have noticed that after I post and get that not connected message, I can hit the back button to get back to the blog and when I click on a comment or reply button, the original comment appears, and when I post it again, there is always success.

      1. When I go on my favorites, and try to connect, I get the not available box, then I check for errors, and when it says exit, I do and all of a sudden I can connect…not sure if it is an internet explorer problem or not..

    2. Yesterday I recycled my pc to factory settings and installed windows 10 again. So far so good. It took all day.

  8. Scott I think you are right about Ryu. There having Ryu rest, after feeling shoulder discomfort. I think they also said that Ryu hasn’t thrown all week. I thought something was up too. That is why I asked you. There was such a change in the news about Ryu. He had been ok throwing fastballs, and then he was throwing change ups, and suddenly the mood about him, and it changed in one day. And they stopped talking about him, and then they said he wouldn’t be able to pitch in the rotation until May. I have been watching every nite on TWC.

  9. Scott I can’t believe this, Anderson felt something in his back today, and went in to have tests on his back. His start on Friday is questionable. I read this right after, I read the news on Ryu!

    1. Maybe the Urias and De Leon era is going to begin earlier than expected. Zach Lee, Jharel Cotton, Ross Stripling, you guys getting ready?

      1. Having heard all about depth ad nauseum it appears that the Dodgers will be dipping into it from day one. Nice to have it. Its not like the Dodgers are going from tens to eights when they dip into the depth. Its more like going from sevens to sixpointfives.
        .
        I have already said I have a good feeling about Lee and I hope he gets a chance.

    2. Not surprising to me. He’s never been able to stay healthy his entire career. This is what happens when you sign pitchers with histories of injury problems. Hopefully it’s nothing serious

  10. I believe the comparison of Maeda to Kuroda was a fair one. You always need standards to gauge actual performance by. So if we are going to gauge Maeda’s 2016 performance to Kuroda’s rookie season, that seems like a fair and appropriate approach. But I also fall into the Michael Norris camp on this. While I am optimistic about how he will perform, I understand the skepticism, and the Show Me attitude. I think he will fall somewhere in between a co-ace as discussed above, and the ceiling of #3 starter discussed in Dodger Digest.

  11. I’m skeptical of just about every prospect until we see them in the bigs. Having said that, we’ve had pretty good luck with pitchers from Japan if they can stay healthy. The Japanese major leagues are at least as good as our AAA while I believe Cuba is only about AA because of all the defections. And we’ve seen a lot of “can’t miss” guys fall off the edge. But Maeda wasn’t just good in Japan, he was their best.

  12. There has been some question as to whether Ryu had labrum surgery. According to the Dodgers’ website today, “Ryu, who missed the 2015 season after undergoing labrum surgery, hasn’t thrown off a mound since Friday, and the lefty probably won’t again for a few more days.”

    If Ryu had a labral tear, he may well never be able to pitch again and if he does he may not ever be the same.

    Now Anderson.

    My point before was that hiring injured pitchers isn’t depth – they are just injured or injury prone. I would love to see Ryu, Anderson and McCarthy contribute this year but don’t be surprised if they don’t.

    If they don’t, our rotation is Kershaw, Kazmir, Maeda, Wood and ??? Not great depth or a great rotation. Maybe it IS time for the Braintrust to see if any of the kids are ready for prime time. If not, then we will be treated to another year of spare parts like Bolsinger and Frias in the rotation.

    1. The Dodgers need to wind up with three good starters for the playoffs and to get into the playoffs I can see Urias getting maybe 3 starts, De Leon 5 starts, Beachy 7 starts, and Lee anywhere from 1 to 10 starts.

  13. On may 21st this was reported: “The labral repair surgery will end Ryu’s 2015 season without throwing a pitch.”

    On October 15th it was reported: “Ryu had arthroscopic surgery to repair a labral tear in his left shoulder on May 21”

    I never had any question that Ryu had labrum surgery because that is what has always been reported.
    I would imagine that at least one… probably two… of the trio of McCarthy, Ryu and Anderson will be contributors, but I’ll settle for one.

  14. We laughed when they signed Jamey Wright but he could end up being in the rotation at this rate. Just bumps in the road, hopefully.

  15. Maybe Ravin is just really uncoordinated and that is why he can’t throw strikes and can’t not hit trees with his car!

    Anderson. Well he made it threw part of one day. This year’s McCarthy?

    Over Under for LAD DL for opening day = 5 🙂

  16. Now they are saying Ryu won’t be coming back, until June. I heard this on TWC. This sounds just like last year, when they never came out, and said that Ryu is finished for the year. Some writers are saying that Ryu is having the regular soreness, that pitchers have. It isn’t working again.

    1. I have no opinion because I know that people are going to jump to conclusions, but if it was said on TWC, then it’s written in stone – total truth. Stick a fork in Ryu, he’s done. Anderson needs a back transplant and McCarthy will get the right arm of a cadaver! for the uninitiated!

      How can you formulate an opinion on any of this with so little data? Oh, I know – If you want to believe something, then you will have your mind made up. I hear stuff and YAWN!

      If this is what happened to Ryu last year, then I guess it’s happening again. Of course it is.

      1. No – but I have had surgery for a labral tear. It doesn’t always work – I still can’t get my arm above my head. Sometimes it works; sometimes…

        I have already cited the study – 50% of major league pitchers who have Tommy John surgery don’t throw over 100 innings for the remainder of their major league careers; 25% never come back at all. McCarthy has a 50/50 chance. Sometimes it works; sometimes…

        Anderson had back surgery. He has already come back once so unless he has re-herniated something, he has a good chance of coming back again. Sometimes it works; sometimes…

        1. Well, we have seen Ryu pitching with his arm over his head, so there is that. Yesterday, I read a quote from him that said he had soreness, but not pain. I have no idea if this is a setback or not, but from the collective quotes (not just one source), it seems that the Dodgers are just reeling him in and don’t want him to pitch until mid to late May. With all the arms, that makes perfect sense.

          Lots of players have sore backs, A-Gon included. Again, it is what is is and what is it?

      2. Mark believe me, I want Ryu back, but I am concerned. Last year, I had no idea that Ryu wouldn’t pitch, and I was suprised that he was out for the season. I like the guy, and he would be a big loss, if he can’t make it back. I read one day he won’t be back until May, and that nite the Dodger people say, he won’t be back until June, and don’t give any details. They don’t say he is just having to slow down his program, or anything. I hope you are right Mark, and I am jumping to a conclusion.

    1. Badgers eat a variety of foods but prefer earthworms. There is a good chance that Badger is away eating earth worms. MJ, I was wondering the same thing.Hopefully he is watching spring training in Glendale and Salt River.

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