Dodgers News: Kenta Maeda’s Debut Goes Off Without A Hitch
Jon SooHoo-Los Angeles Dodgers

They say never fully believe what you see in Spring Training or September, but for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s difficult not to become bullish over what they’ve seen during that time.

After 27 stellar regular-season games during the final month of 2015, the expectations placed on Corey Seager have only grown. The same may apply to Japanese import Kenta Maeda, who threw two scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his Dodgers debut on Saturday.

Maeda has been praised for his command and secondary pitches, but some wondered if it would transfer from the Japan Central League to Major League Baseball. There’s also the question if Maeda is capable of withstanding the physical toll that comes with pitching more frequently.

Definitive answers likely won’t come until the soon-to-be-28-year-old makes his way through a full season with the Dodgers.

But if Saturday is any indication, the organization will be rewarded for investing a minimum of $25 million in the right-hander. Following his strong showing, Maeda said he was pleased with his command, via Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider:

“I thought I was able to add and subtract with the velocity, and also I was able to command all my pitches well today,” Maeda said through a translator. “It was my first opportunity to be able to pitch in front of the fans, so I wanted to make a good impression.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also had a positive review of Maeda’s first outing:

“I was looking for that fastball command, (and) I knew he was going to throw some secondary pitches, so just seeing the swings they were taking, the deception there, was great.”

The praise Maeda received is similar to the comments made after his first bullpen session of camp. Following a live batting practice session, Yasmani Grandal compared the right-hander to Zack Greinke.

Along with putting his strong command and movement on display, Maeda lived up to the billing of being a good athlete by quickly and smoothly getting off the mound to cover first base in a 3-1 putout.

Maeda was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and averaged 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings in eight seasons with the Hiroshima Carp. Last season, he went 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA in 29 starts (206.1 innings pitched). Maeda posted a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last six seasons, including a career-best 1.53 ERA in 2012.