This article is part of our Collette Calls series.
To say the 2021 season is going poorly for the Twins would be an understatement. They have the worst record in the American League at 15-28, and can mostly thank a ghastly bullpen for many blown leads late in games. The starting rotation is not without fault, and none more so than near-Cy Young winner Kenta Maeda. Maeda went from unbelievable just a season ago to damn near unrosterable this year, forcing passionate Twins fans to ask:
Maeda has never struggled to this extent since coming to the majors in 2016. He has always had more than a strikeout per inning and controlled his walks while giving up a few homers above the league average. Last season, it all came together for him with a career-best strikeout rate, walk rate and ERA. If not for Shane Bieber's amazing numbers, Maeda would have won the Cy Young award last season. In the shortened season, Maeda featured his slider and splitter while dialing back the usage of his four-seamer that he used with the Dodgers. That mixture of pitches led to more career-best numbers in areas such as swings out of the zone, swinging strikes and called strikes + whiffs: