Dodgers: An Opening Series Preview of the Best Rivalry in Baseball
By Drew Gabruch
Game Three – Kenta Maeda vs Derek Holland
Sure, Kenta Maeda had issues last year. Maybe he was too tired through the course of the season after having experienced one year of success in the big leagues. Maybe some pressure to perform got to him. Or maybe he needed a small setback in the numbers category to realize what he needs to get back to in-order to reassert his dominance.
When Maeda toes the rubber on Saturday, he will have to focus on pitching like he did in the postseason: throwing every pitch with authority and with a purpose. Since he will not have the luxury of being in the bullpen all year, so that he can come out and throw 95mph, Maeda will have to use his stuff wisely for it to work through at least five innings. Not only does Kenta need to mix his pitches well, but he must control his breaking pitches and keep them away from the middle of the zone since that was a large area of how he was hit around last season.
When looking at a familiar foe, Kenta cannot let little mistakes get to him. There is no need to panic. However, Joe Panik has been a force against the Dodger right-hander. Panik bats in the neighborhood of .500 against Maeda (4-for-9) and has hit one home run against him as well. And it goes for all Giant hitters, as it does for Panik, you cannot leave a ball out over the plate. It will be sent into orbit, if so.
Some people do forget that Derek Holland was like an anchor piece to the Texas Rangers organization only a few years ago. After dealing with a few injuries and the inability to make large strides in once again becoming a solid three-to-five starter, Holland will have his sights set on channeling back some of his past glory, but this time it will be with the Giants.
The only current Dodger to have recorded a hit against Holland is currently out of commission with a broken wrist (Justin Turner), so it is fair to say that the right-handed hitters will have to feed off the first pitch fastballs – if they are in a preferred location – and sit back on the breaking balls. If you are the Dodgers and have had little to no experience against Derek Holland, it might be best to just look for a certain pitch and location, but otherwise try forcing a heavy workload for the southpaw, no matter what.