Low on starting pitching depth, the Boston Red Sox only have two starting pitchers who they should feel comfortable with in their rotation next year—Rubby De La Rosa and Joe Kelly. Many rookies have come, tried and failed, meaning the Red Sox need three more starters for their rotation (sorry Clay Buchholz).
No he is not Yu Darvish, but Kenta Maeda should be a highly appealing option to the Red Sox this offseason. A cheaper Japanese option who should be able to crack the big league rotation immediately, the Red Sox could use a pitcher like Maeda.
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Regardless of whether or not Kenta Maeda is the next superstar, it is clear he can play the game and play it well. In 24 starts for the Hiroshima Carp, he posted a 2.58 ERA while striking out 7.5 men per nine innings.
It may take $25 million just to talk to him, but Maeda is a far cheaper option than the top pitchers on the free agent market. Realistically, he may command $50-60 million for a five year deal. Keep in mind he is only 26 and locking up Americans that age for such a deal is almost unheard of, so Boston should pounce on the opportunity.
Formal scouting reports are tough to find on Japanese players, but Boston is doing their best to draw up theirs as they are “heavily scouting” him according to multiple sources. He throws a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball, shuuto, curveball, changeup and slider. He used to also throw a cutter and forkball, but abandoned the two pitches in 2011.
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Back in 2012 when he threw a no-hitter, his fastball topped out at 93 mph and averaged 89 mph. As the outing progressed, he dipped into the mid-to-high 80’s before bringing it back to the low 90’s once again.
He averaged an 89.89 mph fastball back in 2012 with a shuuto of nearly the same speed. Keep in mind his stuff was getting progressively faster and faster so he may sit around 91 mph now. He does not rely heavily upon the pitch, using it just 34.2% of the time in 2012 down from 48.5% in 2009. Maeda is not a big guy, so his lack of a dominant fastball is understandable standing at 6 ft tall weighing in at just 161 lbs.
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In the World Baseball Classic last season, he tossed two outings and ten scoreless innings all while allowing just three base runners (two hits, one walk). He also struck out 15 men so it appears as though this is the particular event which put him on the map to American scouts.