The Dodgers are headed to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, after winning the National League West. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of pitcher Kenta Maeda.Kenta Maeda, RHPBorn: Senboku-gun,
The Dodgers are headed to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, after winning the National League West. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of pitcher Kenta Maeda.
Kenta Maeda, RHP
Born: Senboku-gun, Osaka, Japan
Previous team: Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan)
Path to Los Angeles: Was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in January. Made his big league debut on April 6.
:: Before they were postseason-bound: Select a player ::
Trophy case: Two-time Sawamura Award winner as the best pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball in 2010 and '15.
Famous feat(s): Maeda hit a home run in his second plate appearance and fired six shutout innings to beat the Padres in his Major League debut. He's the third starting pitcher to homer in his debut since 2000, the first Dodger to homer in his debut since Jose Offerman in 1990 and the first Dodgers pitcher to homer in his debut since Dan Bankhead in '47.
You might not know: Is the youngest pitcher in NPB history to achieve the pitching Triple Crown, doing so in 2010 when he was 22 years old.
Six degrees of Willie Aikens: Maeda wears No. 18, the same number as his former teammate with the Hiroshima Carp, former Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda. The two are close friends.
"He's taught me about Major League Baseball overall, how the pitching is here," Maeda said. "I'm obviously very honored to wear No. 18, which Kuroda wore with the Dodgers here."
Eyes on the prize: Maeda made his goals clear for his first season with the Dodgers during his introductory press conference in January at Dodger Stadium: He wants to celebrate a World Series championship.
"I did study about the club myself and everything just made me want to play for the team and at the end of the season hopefully do a champagne fight," he said.
Next in line: Maeda is eighth Japanese-born player in Dodgers history. He's the latest in an impressive line of Japanese pitchers to find success with the Dodgers, following in the footsteps of Hideo Nomo, Kaz Ishii, Takashi Saito and Kuroda.
Maeda was 7 years old when Nomo debuted with the Dodgers in 1995.
"I was actually trying to copy his tornado," Maeda said of Nomo's unorthodox delivery. "It was very difficult."
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.