Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda looked like he was finding his groove in May. He threw a combined 14.2 scoreless innings in back-to-back starts against the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies.
In his next start, however, Maeda only lasted 1.2 frames and gave up two runs before exiting early with a hip strain. In two starts since returning from that injury, Maeda has not been as effective as he was before he landed on the disabled list.
He allowed two runs over five innings against the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, only notching one strikeout. Against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, Maeda gave up three runs, five hits and issued a career-high five walks.
And during the game he appeared to possibly have tweaked his hip during an at-bat. Considering his results and the Dodgers’ luck, there was some concern the right-hander was still dealing with injury.
However, manager Dave Roberts said that was not the case and blamed Maeda’s struggles on a lack of command, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“If you’re not commanding your fastball, you’re going to be in trouble. I just didn’t think he had it today. From everything I get from Kenta Maeda and the training staff, physically, he’s fine. I’d say the inconsistency is from not pitching.”
Maeda has struggled with command in his past two outings, giving up eight walks compared to only three strikeouts. In the two starts before his injury, he struck out 20 batters while only walking four.
The Dodgers’ rotation is still trying to find some consistency outside of unlikely ace Ross Stripling. The group has struggled mightily with injuries and ineffectiveness.
Rich Hill returned from the DL for the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and Clayton Kershaw is expected back soon. However, Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu remain sidelined.
Ryu is not slated to return until after the All-Star break. In the meantime, call-up Caleb Ferguson has struggled when pressed into duty.
Now, it is worth keeping an eye on whether Maeda can return to where he was before his injury –and whether he really is fully healthy.
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