Dodgers News: Kenta Maeda Addresses Recent Struggles
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers were defeated, 7-6, by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first of a four-game, home-and-home Freeway Series on Monday night.

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda struggled in a fourth consecutive time, giving up five hits and four runs while striking out five and walking two in only four innings of work. With the Dodgers trailing in the bottom of the fourth, manager Dave Roberts elected to pinch-hit for Maeda.

“I don’t think Kenta was as sharp as he’s been, the command wasn’t there. After that stressful third and the fourth wasn’t really clean, getting the top of the order coming up, third time they would see him, at that point I decided to go to the bullpen,” Roberts said.

“We have Kershaw coming up on [Tuesday] and the pen is rested. I wanted to keep the game close. We were down 4-3 at the time, and I felt the pen could give us those innings. Kenta at that point in time was only going to give us one more inning anyway.”

Maeda got off to a hot start this season, going 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA, 23 strikeouts and five walks over 25.1 innings pitched in his first four starts. However, he’s 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA, 20 strikeouts and nine walks in 21.2 innings across his past four outings.

Overall this season, the Japanese native is 3-3 with a 2.87 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.09 WHIP. Roberts attributed some of Maeda’s recent struggles to a lack of fastball command. “What I see is number one, his fastball command isn’t what it needs to be,” the rookie manager said.

“I think he’s just missing with the slider. Things just aren’t as sharp. … The last couple of outings, late in the game, he hasn’t been as crisp as he was.”

Maeda agreed, citing his failure to carry out a game plan. “I haven’t been able to execute my plan. During the good times I’m a little more careful,” he said. “Even with runners on base, I’ve been able to get out of jams. But, in a lot of situations these days that hasn’t been the case.”

Maeda also said there isn’t a specific reason he’s relied on his slider more heavily in recent outings, but added it was something he would adjust moving forward. The 28-year-old signed with the Dodgers in the offseason after playing eight seasons in Japan, where he pithed just once a week as opposed to every fifth day.

Roberts doesn’t believe fatigue is an issue to this point for Maeda. “That might be something down the road, but it’s not too much of a concern right now,” Roberts said.

Maeda agreed: “Personally, I don’t think less days of rest are that hard or have been a problem.” Maeda also dismissed the notion opposing batters have benefitted from more film being available on him.