Blue Jays Series Preview: Jays look to continue streak against Dodgers top arms
By Lucas Silva
Game 1: May 6 – 7:07 ET
Kenta Maeda (3-1, 1.41 ERA, 2.79 FIP) vs.
Marcus Stroman (4-0, 3.77 ERA, 3.81 FIP)
Stroman went into his latest start against the Rays struggling to miss bats, but he was still posting solid numbers. I had suggested he start to mix in his repertoire a little bit more, as he became a little too reliant on the sinker. That’s what he did and it paid dividends, as he dominated the Rays to a tune of 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.
He threw 50 sinkers, the lowest total since his first start of the year, and he mixed in double digit totals with three secondary pitches for the first time this year. He threw 19 curveballs, 13 sliders, and 12 cutters, and introduced the front door cutter to righties, which accounted for a couple backwards K’s.
He mixed both breaking balls in, which kept hitters off balance all night, and located his sinker down in the zone. It was good to see him pitch to contact early in the count, but expand the zone with an array of pitches with two strikes in order to notch strikeouts.
His velocity was also up, as his sinker averaged 93.06 mph, which was the first time he averaged over 93 since his last start of 2014. If he can keep his velocity up, mix in all of his pitches effectively, and continue to introduce new weapons (such as the front door cutter to righties) then he will continue to have success,
Maeda was an unknown coming into the year, but he has handled himself admirably against major league hitters. He won’t blow anyone away, as his fourseam averages 90.21 mph and tops out at 93.16, but he offers 5 different pitches he throws at least 9% of the time.
Along with the fourseam fastball, he also throws a sinker, change, slider and curve. The slider is his go to swing and miss offering, as it has garnered a 26.88% whiff percentage. His change has also been a good strikeout pitch, as it’s missing bats 16.33% of the time.
He relies more so on the command of all of his pitches, and setting up hitters effectively in order to get strikeouts and weak contact. The velocity and movement of his pitches aren’t going to fool major league hitters by themselves, but the way he sets them up, and his diverse look and command lets his stuff play up.
This has the makings of a very good pitching matchup, but with the Jays coming off a huge series win and their first offensive breakout, I put this one in their favour on the back of a strong Stroman start.
Next: G2: A clash of Cy Young winners, what could go wrong?