How Kenta Maeda’s hot start has been great for the Minnesota Twins
By Greg Simbeck
Kenta Maeda was the Minnesota Twins biggest trade acquisition this offseason, and he’s paying dividends early on.
Kenta Maeda has been a welcome addition to the Minnesota Twins so far in this COVID-19 shortened season. Maeda came to the Twins in February in the Brusdar Graterol trade with the Dodgers.
When he was traded here, the hope was that he would be a solid number three starter behind Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, but his success so far this year has taken on even greater importance due to Odorizzi being on the injured list with an ailing back.
Maeda was impressive in his first start with the Minnesota Twins going 5 innings against the White Sox in Chicago. He gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, with one walk in his outing, while also recording 6 strikeouts. He was extraordinarily sharp.
“His fastball command I thought was excellent, “Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He pitched with his fastball early on like he wanted to establish it on a few of these hitters and he was able to do it in exactly the way that he would like.”
Maeda’s second win was even more impressive as he went 6 innings, giving up just 1 hit and a base on balls, without giving up a run against Cleveland at Target Field. He also added 6 strikeouts to his total giving him 12 for the year.
“That’s exactly why we acquired him,” catcher Mitch Garver said. “Because you know he has two plus off-speed pitches and he wanted to be a starter. It worked out great. We were looking for a starter. He came over and I think during spring training we could see the potential of him.”
Maeda has a multi-pitch repertoire which includes a nice two-seam fastball, one of the best sliders in the game and an effective changeup. He is fearless and will throw any of these pitches at any point in the count.
Maeda has been both a reliever and a starter during his career, but it looks so far like he has found a place in the Minnesota Twins starting rotation. His next scheduled opportunity to pitch will be Thursday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.