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Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: KENTA MAEDA SP LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Just one day after signing veteran free agent starter Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly agreed to terms with 27-year-old Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda to round out the team's rotation.  While the deal has not been confirmed yet, multiple outlets are now saying the deal is done.  Maeda becomes the latest highly sought after Japanese pitching import, following in the recent footsteps of Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish.  As far as his ability is concerned and what he could provide his intrigued fantasy baseball owners, let's dig in and find out a bit more about the guy. 

In terms of the numbers, Maeda finished his career in Japan (at least for now) with the following 2015 numbers:

2.09 ERA
1.01 WHIP
175 K/206.1 IP

Clearly the ERA and WHIP are outstanding and we have seen both with Darvish and Tanaka that their ace numbers carried over to the States, at least before both suffered elbow injuries.  The scouting report on Maeda is certainly what you want to hear in terms of the kid possessing very good control and having a four-pitch arsenal with lots of movements that yields very few in the way of hits.  In contrast to both Darvish and Tanaka, Maeda lacks the top end strikeout numbers that made his two Japanese counterparts such hot commodities.  That is what separates Maeda from those two and is the main reason he is not being spoken of as a potential ace here in the States.  Instead Maeda has pitched like a Japanese version of Tom Glavine with the pinpoint control and allowing the movement on his pitches to generate poor swings.  We are not saying Maeda will be anywhere near the pitcher Glavine was but the guy clearly has skills that could put him firmly in the SP 3 tier as soon as this season.  Alas don't get too caught up in thinking he will be the next Japanese pitching superstar. 

When you mull Kenta Maeda for 2016 fantasy baseball, we would plant him right in that SP 3 range when it comes to mulling what we will pay at the draft table.  We could still see Maeda in fact up the K rate initially due to the unfamiliarity over here in terms of his stuff but overall he looks a shade or two below Darvish and Tanaka. 

2016 PROJECTION:  12-8 3.33 ERA 1.10 WHIP 174 K

 

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