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The Dodgers Should Probably Consider Keeping Reliable Kenta Maeda Around For a Long Time

Kenta Maeda

Dodger’s rotation stalwart Kenta Maeda hasn’t been a fantastic pitcher but he’s been one of the most dependable arms the Dodgers have had in recent seasons. Maeda stands out as one of Andrew Friedman’s few pitching acquisitions that have made sense. Most of Friedman’s pitching acquisitions have been terrible but Maeda has been one of his best pick-ups.

It seems as if the relationship between the Japanese right hander and the front office are beginning to sour and we’ve seen how that’s turned out with other players. It usually means said player is heading out of town. If you remember veteran Howie Kendrick expressed frustration for the Dodger’s redundant platooning and was foolishly dealt to the Phillies for a bag of balls and some magic beans.

I hope that’s not happening with Maeda. Kenta expressed his unhappiness with the way the Dodgers annually move him into the bullpen at the end of the regular season and the postseason prohibiting him from making enough starts to take advantage of his incentive laden contract. Maeda has a bunch of escalators in his deal that only vest when he makes a certain amount of starts or pitches a specific amount of innings.

Yet the right hander always seems to tire out towards the end of the season spooking the Dodgers to remove him from the rotation and use him as a short reliever in the late innings. The reliable Maeda had another solid season in 2019. The 31-year old posted a 4.04 ERA, won 10 games and tossed 153.1 innings. Maeda struck out 169 and walked only 51 while posting 9.9 K/9 and allowing just 6.7 hits per nine innings.

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The problem (if you can call it that) is that Maeda is a fierce reliever and was once again lights out in the playoffs when pitching in relief. During 2019 Maeda posted better numbers as a reliever than as a starter. As a matter of fact Maeda has a career 3.19 ERA as a reliever and a 3.92 ERA while pitching as a starter. During the 2019 NLDS against Washington Maeda tossed four scoreless frames allowing just one hit, walking none and striking out seven.

Reports indicated recently that Maeda discussed a trade with his agent. When asked about the situation Friedman retorted by challenging Maeda to “find another gear”. This doesn’t sound like it’s going to end well. For the record Maeda has four years remaining on his contract and unless he’s traded wouldn’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season.

It would behoove Andrew Friedman and the Dodger’s front office to make nice with Maeda and not force him out of town. With Friedman too cheap and unimaginative to acquire good pitching of any kind, it’s important to keep solid arms like Maeda in the fold. With Friedman being too small market minded to re-sign Cy Young runner-up Hyun-jin Ryu and revered curveball master Rich Hill, the Dodgers don’t have many good veteran starters, and have even fewer decent right handed starters. With pitching bound to be even thinner than it was in 2019 (if that is even possible, although give Friedman a chance he certainly can build an even weaker staff than he did in 2019) Maeda’s role on the pitching staff in 2020 is going to be very important. Let’s keep Kenta Maeda around as long as we can. The Dodgers are going to be counting on him to balance out the staff next season.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

14 thoughts on “The Dodgers Should Probably Consider Keeping Reliable Kenta Maeda Around For a Long Time

  1. It is all a crap shoot when Andy is involved, Andy’s ego just won’t allow any of this non-sense, like keeping a solid, non-broken down pitcher around. Andy wants cheap, broken down, dumpster pitchers, so he can “rehabilitate” and look like a genius (note to Andy, getting one out of 15 right is not winning).

    1. Hello True Blue. I can honestly say that I have not looked forward to an upcoming season any more than I am not looking forward to the 2020 season. And as I have indicated on the Dodgers Nation pages several times, NO top level FA will be signing here with Dodgers for one reason besides the cheapness that is Andy… and that is those top tier players do not reside in the dumpster bin, it’s as simple as that.

  2. Well, lucky us, we now have Friedman locked in for the foreseeable future. That should make some all warm and fuzzy. Others may feel that baseball is done, while others are just content to keep on with the program and and watch what Bevis and Butthead do again in 2020. I think that is where I will reside. Watching two Dummies is a real treat and no one cares. Go Figure?

    1. Somehow I knew that would be your reaction Pack. I commend you for sticking to your guns no matter what. But his extension has been a forgone conclusion for months as was the fact that Roberts would be back. So gang, how do we improve the Dodgers? Maeda leaving would be a blow, but not a major one. It opens up opportunities for the kids, which many of you have been screaming for. According to many reports, they are very interested in bringing Ryu back, and it would make sense if they gave him a contract for a little more money than they gave Hill 3 years ago. 3/60, or 4/80 like Kenley got. Hell, go way out of the box and sign the Mad Bum! I don’t care that he is an exe Giant, the guy can pitch and he can hit too which will be handy until the DH in the NL is approved with the next CBA. Since we know they will not go 5 years for any pitcher, Mad Bum would be a good choice. If he is interested of course. Now the are not signing Rendon for what Boras is going to demand. If he did a team friendly 4-5 year deal they might consider it. But I believe if they do sign a 3rd baseman, it is going to be Donaldson. And it will be at most a 2 year deal with an option for a 3rd. But they need to make the bullpen better. They have the pieces to do that. Either by trade or free agency. They already waited to long to get their top choice, Smith. They also need to decide, and I think this decision will be made in spring training, who is going to back up Smith at catcher. Ruiz will not be that guy at the beginning of the season unless he has a monster spring.

      1. Michael, as I understand it it is it true that teams will be limited to 13 pitchers on the new 26 man roster? If so then FO and Roberts cannot necessarily play with a short bench like they have in the past few years. I also heard that some teams may now carry 3 catchers with that extra player on the roster. At the very least we probably won’t see Roberts using up his bench by the 7th inning but then again WSS…..

        1. That is indeed one of the limitations. Only 13 pitchers and 13 position players. 3 catchers will be used by some teams. But I do not see the Dodgers using 3. If Kike is retained, he is the emergency catcher and has been ever since he got here. The other rule change that no doubt will affect Roberts is the 3 hitter rule for relievers. Any one coming in out of the pen, must face at least 3 hitters. One effect of this is if he comes in to get one out, and his spot in the order is coming up in the first 3 hitters, he is going to have to hit and then go out and face 2 more hitters. When the DH comes in it will not mean so much, but it will have an impact next year. Also, pitchers now have to spend 15 days on the IL. The 10 day Il now exists only for position players…..

          1. Michael, I thought that 3 batter minimum rule means that he must face 3 batters or he finishes the inning, because team’s offense would be compromised too much IMHO I can’t imagine teams would be OK to have a relief pitcher take his turn at bat just so he can go out in the next inning. because that puts the offenses at a distinct disadvantage, so are ya sure about that part of the new rule? I know about the 15 day IL for pitchers but forcing a relief pitcher, who may have had little to no AB’s ever in his career to hit makes no sense at all.

  3. MIchael
    Did I miss something? I did not know the DH was to be put in for 2021, is it? Are there new rules that have been agreed on?

    1. The CBA ends after the 2021 season and needs to be re-negotiated before the 2022 season. So, that being said, the DH is probably 2 years away, but trust me, it is coming if for no other reason than making the leagues uniform, and the fact that owners do not want high priced pitchers getting injured doing something they rarely do. Paul, they have to face 3 hitters the way it is written now. No just getting the inning done.

      1. I looked up a clarification on that 3 batter rule and I believe it mentioned ‘or he finishes an inning ‘because I cannot imagine teams willing to allow a reliever to bat and this gives an unfair advantage to the pitching over the hitting because that relief pitcher batting is an automatic out and I cannot believe MLB clubs would go along with that.

    2. 26 man roster that can have no more than 13 pitchers. 3 hitter rule for relievers. New IL rules for pitchers. They have to stay on the IL 15 days now, position players can spend only 10. Guess they feel the 10 day for pitchers was being abused. They can only add 2 players in September now, and only 1 trade deadline with no deals what so ever involving players on the active roster after July 31st. DH will most likely be added when the new CBA is negotiated.

  4. Michael, I found this from looking up a definition of that 3 batter rule:
    ‘In an effort to reduce the number of pitching changes and, in turn, cut down the average time per game, MLB will institute a rule change beginning in 2020 that requires pitchers to either face a minimum of three batters in an appearance or pitch to the end of a half-inning, with exceptions for injuries and illnesses.’

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