With the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen struggling as much as it has in recent weeks, they badly needed Kenta Maeda to go deep into the game on Thursday afternoon against the Miami Marlins, and that’s exactly what he did.
Maeda was masterful in the 7-0 victory over Miami, helping the Dodgers snap a six-game losing streak and move to 17-26 on the season. The start was the best of the season for Maeda, and perhaps the best since he came over from Japan before the 2016 season.
He tossed eight shutout innings, giving up just two hits while striking out eight without issuing a walk. He retired the final 17 batters faced and needed just 96 pitches to get through the eight innings of work.
Maeda looked like a completely different pitcher, and he credited that to slowing down his delivery on the mound, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I thought that gave me the edge today,” Maeda said through his interpreter. “I felt like I was rushing my delivery a little and today I was able to slow everything down.”
Maeda was coming off perhaps his worst start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, so it had to feel good for him to get back on track personally as well as the team getting back on track.
Overall, Maeda has been one of the Dodgers best starters this season, going 3-3 in nine appearances (eight starts). He has pitched to a 3.89 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 54 compared to just 13 walks in 44 innings.
Thursday marked the Dodgers’ sixth shutout victory on the season, although it was their first since May 4, when they tossed a combined no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. The pitching staff will look to carry that momentum into their weekend series against the Washington Nationals.