While pitchers usually aren’t expected to do much with the bat, hitting has always been something that Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers take pride in. Zack Greinke won a Silver Slugger award for Los Angeles in 2013, and Clayton Kershaw has proven on several occasions that he can handle a bat.
Another who takes pride in his work on the mound and in the batter’s box is Kenta Maeda. Since signing an eight-year contract with the Dodgers prior to the 2016 season, Maeda has been championed as a pitcher who commands respect as a batter.
In his first career game, he slugged a home run at Petco Park. Maeda has batted just .125 in his two seasons with the Dodgers, but there have been highlights along the way — both in Spring Training and regular-season games.
Maeda’s latest power display came during a batting practice session in Japan in which he hit a towering home run to left field and capped it off with a bat flip, which Maeda shared on Instagram
Maeda has one double and four RBI in each of his first two seasons with the Dodgers. While contributions at the plate are welcomed, the focus is of course on the mound.
And although he found success as a reliever in the postseason, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he Maeda will return to his traditional starting role this season.
Last season, Maeda went 13-6 with a 4.22 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 1.15 WHIP in 29 games (25 starts). In 134.1 innings pitched he struck out 140 and walked just 34.
He has the ability to be a shutdown reliever if need be in October, as in 10.2 postseason innings out of the bullpen he gave up just five hits and one run while striking out 10 and walking two.