Kenta Maeda solidifying the fifth spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation has been a key factor in their dominance. Consider that Maeda currently boasts career in WHIP (1.06) and HR/9 (6.8) and ask yourself – what has the 31-year old uncovered?
In this case, it’s continuance of something that gave him initial success in 2018.
Now, Maeda talks with J.P. Hoornstra of the OC Register about what the ingredient has been. In case you’re wondering, it’s his change-up. Indeed, left-handed batters hit .123 against the pitch last season. At the current time, he’s throwing it more than ever before.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) June 11, 2019
First, discovering how devastating the pitch was in his arsenal was crucial for Maeda.
“During the offseason, I saw a lot of data, a lot of articles saying my changeup was good,” Maeda said through his interpreter. “That gave me a lot of confidence on that pitch.”
In fact – it has given Maeda enough confidence that he’s throwing the pitch almost once every four pitches – 23 percent of the time. Furthermore, that’s up from 14 percent in 2018. Obviously, the delta in that direction represents one thing; a pitcher’s confidence in his best pitch.
“Last year I started throwing my changeup around midway during the season last year, so I couldn’t fully control the movement and which side of the plate I wanted it to go to,” he said. “This year I have more control over it, more conviction. That’s probably why I have thrown it more.”
When a pitcher starts using words like ‘conviction’ when talking about one of his pitches, you can be sure he’s feeling it. And when it comes to the change-up, any former or current hurler will tell you ‘feel’ is everything with that pitch.
Overall, Maeda has a 7-2 record and 3.48 ERA (tying a career best in 2016). The pitcher everyone thought would be known for versatility has settled into a starting role that looks to be cementing itself as a feature role within a great ball club.