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Maeda finishes second in AL Cy Young voting; Cleveland’s Bieber is unanimous choice for honor

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Sep 11, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) delivers a pitch in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins went to great lengths last offseason to make sure they acquired righthander Kenta Maeda from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The effort by Twins present of baseball operations Derek Falvey was rewarded during the pandemic shortened-season as Maeda went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts.

On Wednesday, Maeda finished second in the AL Cy Young balloting behind Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, who was the unanimous choice for the honor, getting all 30 first-place votes. Maeda received 18 second-place votes and finished with 92 points, well ahead of third-place finisher Hyun-jin Ryu of the Toronto Blue Jays. Ryu was a teammate of Maeda’s with the Dodgers through the 2019 season.

Maeda, who spent his first four big-league seasons with Los Angeles, was initially acquired as part of the three-team trade that sent Mookie Betts from Boston to Los Angeles. The Twins agreed to send hard-throwing reliever Brusdar Graterol to Boston in that trade, but the Red Sox were uncomfortable with Graterol’s medical records. The Twins then agreed to a trade that would send Graterol to the Dodgers.

Maeda, 32, had been used both as a starter and reliever by the Dodgers but wanted to be in a full-time starting role and that’s how the Twins used him in the 60-game regular season and also the playoffs. Maeda’s only loss came in a 3-2 defeat against the Tigers on Aug. 30. Maeda started Game 1 of the Twins’ first-round playoff series, giving up no runs and two hits in five innings of an eventual 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros. He did not get a decision and the Twins were swept in two games.

Maeda’s best start of the season came on Aug. 18 at Target Field when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Milwaukee before losing it on a soft single by Eric Sogard. The Twins blew a three-run lead before coming back to win 4-3 in 12 innings. Maeda set a franchise record with eight consecutive strikeouts and finished the game with 12 strikeouts on 115 pitches.

Maeda has three years remaining on his contract and will make $3.125 million in each of those seasons.

Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA in 12 starts this summer. The Twins handed him his only loss, a 3-1 setback on Sept. 11 in Cleveland, scoring three runs on five hits against Bieber in seven innings. The righthander also beat the Twins twice during the season.