Dodgers Injury News: Kenta Maeda Expected To Be First Starter To Return From Disabled List
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting pitching has been one of the team’s few strengths so far in 2018. Shockingly, that success comes despite four of the team’s five Opening Day starters being on the disabled list.

Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu all remain sidelined. In their absence, younger pitchers such as Walker Buehler and Ross Stripling have stepped up in big ways lately.

Still, Buehler and Stripling cover only two spots in a five-man rotation. Meanwhile, Alex Wood continued his struggles with a two-inning, six-run outing in Colorado on Sunday. Even though manager Dave Roberts remains confident in the Dodgers’ depth, his staff does not have much else besides rookie Dennis Santana.

It may stay that way for a while as Kershaw is expected to miss at least a month with a back strain. Meanwhile, Hill will need a rehab start before he returns from another blister issue.

And Ryu is out until after the All-Star break. That makes Maeda the most likely member of the rotation to return soonest, which Roberts indicated over the weekend, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:

With 80% of his opening day starting rotation on the disabled list, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made a prediction Saturday afternoon: Kenta Maeda would be the first member of the quartet to pitch again this season.

Maeda, meanwhile, was cleared to resume baseball activities Saturday after straining a muscle in his right hip this week. Maeda is unlikely to require a rehab outing. But Roberts declined to set a timetable for Maeda’s return.

Maeda looked like he had finally hit his stride before sustaining his injury against the Philadelphia Phillies last Tuesday. In two starts before that, he threw a combined 14.2 shutout innings, issuing 20 strikeouts.

The third-year pitcher carries a 3.42 ERA, 2.85 FIP and 1.28 WHIP overall in 2018. If he can get back to the level he was at in the starts before his hip issue, Maeda will give the Dodgers another valuable weapon in their rotation.

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