Dodgers 2019 Player Reviews: Kenta Maeda
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda against the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the 2019 NLDS
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 season marked Kenta Maeda’s fourth with the Los Angeles Dodgers since making the jump to MLB. He once again took to either role asked of him, beginning the year as a starting pitcher before shifting to the bullpen for the stretch run.

Despite some early struggles, Maeda found his groove during the month of May, compiling a perfect 4-0 record with a 2.73 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 29.2 innings pitched.

The right-hander posted an overall 7-5 record, 3.76 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 94 strikeouts against 31 walks in 95.2 innings prior to the All-Star break.

Maeda’s ERA rose to 4.50 over the final two and a half months of the regular season, but saw his strikeout-to-walk ratio improve. He punched out 75 batters as opposed to issuing 20 walks over 58 frames during the second half.

Maeda made his annual transition to the bullpen at the start of September and yielded six runs over his final 10 appearances of the year.

In 37 appearances during the regular season — 26 of which were starts — Maeda accumulated a 10-8 record with a 4.04 ERA, 3.95 FIP and 1.07 WHIP in 153.2 innings pitched. As a reliever, he posted a solid 3.24 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 11 games.

The 31-year-old was a key component of the Dodgers’ relief corps in the postseason. He made four appearances against the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series, allowing just one hit over 4.1 scoreless innings while striking out seven.

2019 highlight

Over a span of two starts from May 10-15, Maeda logged 12.2 shutout innings and yielded just four hits while striking out 18 batters. He earned a pair of wins against the Nationals and San Diego Padres during the stretch.

2020 outlook

Though he found success as a reliever in the postseason, Maeda is slated to return to the starting rotation for the start of the 2020 season. While he has shown a willingness to pitch out of the bullpen when asked of him, he made it clear that his preference is to start on a permanent basis.

So much so that Maeda would reportedly welcome a trade in order to get his wish.

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