I think Kenta Maeda just gave up another home run. And another. And another. Yes it has been a beyond tough start to the 2017 fantasy baseball season for prospective high-end Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda, whose sophomore MLB campaign now consists of a current 8.05 ERA and 1.53 WHIP through his first four starts. Widely considered to be a solid SP 2 for fantasy baseball in coming off a terrific rookie campaign (3.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 179 K in 175.2 IP), Maeda has been a colossal flop thus far. So as we always do in his space, let's dig in a bit more and find out what is really going on here.
Before we proceed further, keep in mind the small sample size aspect of things. Yes the numbers are ugly but 4 starts is a microcosm of an entire season. So with that out of the way, let's compare some advanced numbers from 2016 to this season for Maeda:
K/9: 9.17 (2016) 9.00 (2017)
BB/9: 2.56 (2016) 2.37 (2017)
BABIP: .283 (2016) .315 (2017)
HR/9: 1.02 (2016) 3.32 (2017)
Comparing these numbers, we highlighted the HR/9 due to the massive disparity between the two and it is this area more than anything that has completely derailed Maeda early on. There could be some tipping of pitches going on here as jumps like this are almost impossible to accept being an eventual full-season deal. As you also know, home runs can destroy any given start in that one or two pitches could inflate the ERA despite the pitcher having good stuff overall. How often have we seen 4-hit/10-K gems results in 4 or 5 earned runs due to home runs given up? Yes 24 hits in 19 innings is very high but Maeda's already top-notch control is IMPROVED this year and his K/9 is right where it was last season which is a nice place to be at. Also consider that Maeda's BABIP has moved into the unlucky territory, with adjusted ERA's of 6.48 (FIP and still very ugly) and 4.34 (XFIP). Overall it just goes to show you that the advanced numbers all indicate a turnaround is on its way and it could be soon. All Maeda has to do is knock down that home run total and he could just like that turn back to the SP 2 we all anticipated he would be. With that said, a buy low is a good idea here as Maeda is simply going through a rut and is still very young (29) which means he has not lost anything stuff-wise. I myself am going to try and steal away Maeda and it is moves like this that ultimately help you win your league.