Cuban defector Yunesky Maya made his debut last night for the Washington Nationals against the New York Mets, and let’s just say he got off to a rough start.

The 29-year-old (so they say) gave up five runs, five hits, and two walks in five innings of work. One of those hits was an absolute bomb by Mets’ rookie first baseman Ike Davis.

After watching Maya pitch last night, I would say the Nationals have Daisuke Matsuzaka 2.0 on their hands.


Maya featured a fastball that averaged around 90 mph, a change that was in the low-80s and two types of curveballs. Like fellow Cuban defector Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Maya has a lollipop curve that goes from 12-to-6 in seemingly slow motion, and a nice, sweeping curve.

Also like Hernandez, he has a little deception in his motion where he tucks his glove behind his front leg when delivering the ball.

I think that’s where the comparisons to El Duque end where the comparisons to Dice-K begin.

Like Dice-K so often does, Maya kept nibbling and nibbling and nibbling last night. He refused to challenge hitters with his fastball. Out of the 87 pitches Maya threw last night, only 38 percent were fastballs. That can’t happen at the major-league level. It’s okay to nibble if a pitcher gets ahead of the batters, but Maya only threw first-pitch strikes to 12 out of the 21 batters be faced.

If Maya wants to be successful at the major-league level, he is going to have to be more aggressive in the strike zone and go after hitters more. If not, his pitch count will rise and he will just be one of those bend-but-don’t-break, five-inning pitchers.

Like Dice-K.


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