Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reaffirmed that Kenta Maeda will start in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Roberts said Maeda’s start was independent of the result of Game 4.
His comments came prior to the Chicago Cubs awakening for a resounding 10-2 victory to pull even in the NLCS. After the Dodgers’ 10-2 loss, Roberts reiterated Maeda is starting Thursday. “It’s going to be Kenta,” he said.
“It’s not an elimination game. And I think the accumulation of [Clayton Kershaw’s] usage over the last 10 days plays a factor in our decision.”
There is precedent for Roberts to have a change of mind after strongly stating something to be matter of fact. Kershaw was able to sway the rookie manager from his “absolutely not” stance on whether his ace would pitch in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.
The start will be Maeda’s third of the postseason, and second time facing the Cubs in the NLCS. He allowed three runs on four hits in just four innings of work in Game 1.
Maeda was hurt by an RBI double that carried over Howie Kendrick’s head in left field, and several two-strike hits. He did finish his outing with back-to-back scoreless innings and was largely removed due to his spot coming up in the order.
“I expect him to go out there and get ahead of hitters, pitch off the fastball, makes the breaking ball to change and just compete,” Roberts said. “So I have all the confidence in the world in Kenta that he’s going to give us a chance to win a baseball game tomorrow.”
Maeda’s Game 4 start will easily be the biggest of his career. The 28-year-old faces the difficult task of holding down a Cubs team that again has reason to feel good about itself. The loser of Game 5 will be on the brink of elimination when the NLCS returns to Wrigley Field on Saturday.