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And then there is the case of the Blue Jays to consider

Other Baseball Today, 12:17 PM
https://www.sportsne...measures-place/ Here we are, theoretically two weeks away from Opening Day. The Blue Jays aren’t yet certain where...
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Watch the Live Play-by-Play of the Virtual Twins Playoffs

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:33 AM
With the real Twins around the corner, I have elected to sim to the playoffs to try and tease how the real club will do this fall, and as...
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2020 Game Thread Intros

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:09 AM
Yes, I believe there will be baseball! Further, the Twins would be a popular pick this year to advance to the playoffs and maybe, just ma...
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Charley Walters: Twins-Saints partnership talks quietly o...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 07:30 AM
Very interesting article in Pioneer Press from Charlie Walters. https://www.twinciti...uietly-ongoing/ There’s been a few suggestions in...
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Brian Dozier released

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:29 PM
I noticed this one-sentence item in the most obscure part of this morning's StarTribune print edition:   San Diego released former T...
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Is Kenta Maeda Destined for a Late-Season Bullpen Role?

Kenta Maeda has been a dominant relief pitcher for the Dodgers at the end of the last three seasons and into the postseason. Los Angeles' rotation depth afforded them the opportunity to transition Maeda to the bullpen. The Twins expect to have depth in the season’s second half, could Maeda return to a bullpen role?
Image courtesy of © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Relief Numbers
During the regular season, Maeda has made 34 appearances as a reliever while posting a 3.19 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He has 58 strikeouts compared to eight walks and opponents have been held to a .219/.275/.381 batting line. While these numbers are strong, his postseason relief appearances are off the charts.

Over the last three postseasons, Maeda has pitched 22 innings and only allowed four earned runs (1.64 ERA). One of those runs could come with an asterisk because it was a home run that came in Houston during the 2017 World Series. Opponents have struggled to the tune of a .504 OPS while he has stranded over 40% of inherited runners.

Last season, Maeda voiced his concern over being moved to the bullpen. One of the biggest issues for Maeda is likely due to his incentive laden contract. His base salary is only $3 million, but he can make an extra $10 million per season if he can hit all the bonuses in his contract. Those bonuses aren’t possible if he is in the bullpen.

Rotational Depth
Minnesota looks like a great fit for Maeda to be a starter at the season’s start, but later in the year could bring his starting spot into question. Michael Pineda and Rich Hill won’t be in the rotation until later in the season. There are also young players like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnak who are looking to make a big-league impact.

One of the best-case scenarios for the Twins would be that Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi are pitching at an all-star level. At the same time, Pineda returns and pitches like he did before the suspension. Then only one other pitcher in the organization needs to be pitching well and Maeda’s spot in the rotation could be in question.

Time to Decide
The Twins will have plenty of time to decide if Maeda fits better in their rotation or in the bullpen. In his introductory press conference, he was asked if the Twins guaranteed him a rotation spot. He told reports through an interpreter, “Not necessarily a guaranteed position, but it’s been discussed that he’ll be starting in the rotation.”

One of the toughest tasks for Maeda could be the switch from the NL to the AL. Facing a designated hitter versus a pitcher in the line-up can be a difference-maker for some pitchers. If he can pitch well in this transition, there is no question that the Twins will use him as a starter.

Another piece of advice for Maeda could be the same advice the Dodgers gave him when they demoted him to the bullpen the last three seasons. That advice was “pitch better,” and while this might be a no-brainer, it can be tough for a pitcher to hear. If Maeda pitches well, there is no reason to move him to the bullpen and the same is true for any pitcher in October. Teams don’t mess around at the end of the year. If you are pitching better than your counterparts, you will start playoff games.

Will Maeda be a reliever by season’s end? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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10 Comments

Will Maeda be a reliever by season’s end?

 

 

How can we ever hope to predict this?

 

It will depend on his effectiveness, the effectiveness of many other pitchers, and the health situations of both him and others. About all we could possibly say now is that he will have a chance to be in the rotation as long as he is successful and healthy.

    • Craig Arko, Dman, DocBauer and 2 others like this

It will all play out.At this point, who cares?Berrios might be better suited for the bullpen, for example...

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strumdatjaguar
Feb 17 2020 08:47 PM
There will be a continuous competition this season for spots in the starting rotation. The Twins have a bevy of starters. If any get injured or don’t produce, then another eager starter from the pen or at Rochester gets a chance. Later in the season, the Twins reload with Big Mike and then Rich Hill. As I said, there will be a season long competition to be part of the Twins starting rotation.
    • howieramone2 likes this
A straw-man arguement at this point. There should be no reason, as of now, that he isn't one of our best 4. But when October comes, if he isn't, for some reason, then he would be chasing a ring in the pen as happens every season as teams re-configure their entire roster. Honestly, not even worth thinking about at this point.
    • Craig Arko likes this
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Doctor Gast
Feb 18 2020 09:08 AM

Most definitely Maeda is best suited in the pen but beginning of the season he should be in the top 4 starters which is great if we don`t constantly depend on him to pitch 7 innings. If we use the rotating BP strategy & limit each starters innings. Hopefully all the starters will be rested coming PS & Maeda could get his innings in. Pineda will need some time to get stretched out & there`s no rush getting Hill in the rotation. But for the PS it`ll be more than likely Maeda will go go to BP (especially if the Twins go out & get a stud) unless any of the starters have difficulties

I hope for similar performance from Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, and Pineda. Along with eventually Hill and Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Bailey, Chacin, and Duran pushing for starts. Looks like Twins sit good for pitching, maybe not true ace or #1A and #1B like Houston had last year, but great depth. There will be some separation over the season. FO has set up good competition with some veterans and prospects.

    • howieramone2 likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Feb 18 2020 10:13 AM

I suspect he'll stay in the rotation for two reasons:

 

1. Pitching "depth" always seems to evaporate by July

 

2. Even if the Twins have some "depth", I struggle to see the likes of Homer Bailey pushing Maeda out of the rotation

    • Twins33, howieramone2 and DannySD like this
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BrianTrottier
Feb 18 2020 02:58 PM

This type of prognostication at this point in time is a sure sign that it's time for baseball season to begin.

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Richard Swerdlick
Feb 18 2020 05:22 PM

If Maeda pitches well as a starter, but if the Twins find near the end of the season that they need him as a reliever, the FO should restructure his incentives so that he is not penalized for helping the team win. 

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Brock Beauchamp
Feb 18 2020 07:59 PM

 

If Maeda pitches well as a starter, but if the Twins find near the end of the season that they need him as a reliever, the FO should restructure his incentives so that he is not penalized for helping the team win. 

Given the Twins roster and their farm system, that's so unlikely to happen that I'm not even sure it's worth considering (though I appreciate the sentiment that Maeda deserved better than the Dodgers gave him and his contract should reflect the flexibility he brings to the roster).


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