Dodgers: Gerrit Cole Wasn’t Needed, Maeda is Better

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Kenta Maeda /

The Dodgers appear content headed to spring training without making any new additions to their starting rotation.  While there is still time for them to make a signing, it appears unlikely they will.

The Astros made headlines a week ago when they finally landed Gerrit Cole.  It had been rumored to be close for a few days and then the Astros and Pirates were finally able to finalize a deal.  Being an active member of Dodgers twitter, there was a big group of Dodger fans who were clamoring that the Dodgers should have pursued Gerrit Cole.  Besides being a solid pitcher, the fact that he went to UCLA and grew up in southern California seemed to make him an ideal acquisition.

The fact of the matter is, the Dodgers didn’t need to pursue Gerrit Cole.  In fact, if you slot Cole into the Dodgers rotation he would be their fifth-best starting pitcher at best.  It’s not out of the realm that Hyun-Jin Ryu will put together a better season than Cole as well especially since he seemed to get stronger as the season went on and almost forced his way into the playoff rotation.

The closest pitcher that the Dodgers have to Gerrit Cole is Kenta Maeda.  Alex Wood and Rich Hill are better pitchers than Cole and obviously, Kershaw is as well.  Kenta Maeda is even a better starting pitcher than Gerrit Cole.  Let’s take a look at their stat lines for the past two seasons since Maeda has only been in the major leagues for two full seasons.

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Kenta Maeda

2016 – 3.48 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, 9.2 K/9

2017 – 4.22 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 9.4 K/9

Gerrit Cole

2016 –  3.88 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.44 WHIP, 7.6 K/9

2017 – 4.26 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 8.7 K/9

As the stats show, Kenta Maeda is very similar to Cole statistically, but Maeda is the better starting pitcher by a smudge.  What is even more interesting is that Maeda averages more strikeouts per nine innings despite not being known as a strikeout pitcher.  Cole is the one with the blazing fastball but he is not able to rack up the strikeouts like Maeda has done in his first two big league seasons.

This isn’t counting that Maeda can pitch effectively out of the bullpen or his team friendly contract either.  Cole is set to make 6.7 million this coming season, while Maeda will only make 3.1 million guaranteed.  If Maeda hits on all his incentives then he will make closer to eleven million but that would still be a bargain.  Hitting all of his incentives would mean that Maeda made 32 starts and pitched 200 innings which would be well worth the eleven million dollars.

Next: Will Bellinger live up to bigger expectations in 2018?

While some Dodger fans may have been upset by the Dodgers “missing out” on Gerrit Cole, the Dodgers truly didn’t need him.  On a loaded Dodgers pitching staff, Cole would have been the fifth best starting pitcher at best.  The Dodgers didn’t need Cole and even worse would have been dealing away some top prospects for a pitcher who wouldn’t be an upgrade.