Los Angeles Dodger starting pitcher Kenta Maeda has been as advertised this spring, as he’s thrown 8.2 innings without allowing an earned run and has eight strikeouts over three starts.
The Japanese native, who signed an eight-year deal with the Dodgers in the offseason, has worked to make adjustments since transitioning to the Majors.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment Maeda has been forced to undertake switching to a five-man rotation, thus deviating from his time in Japan when he only threw once a week.
“In Japan, I didn’t throw in a five-man rotation, so it does feel different,” Maeda said after facing the Chicago White Sox.
“But, there haven’t been any issues or problems at all.” Maeda added he’s growing more comfortable with each start he’s able to put under his belt. He’s also learning as he goes.
“The swing tells a lot. But, the more games I pitch the more I will find out about my pitches and the hitters,” Maeda said. After allowing two unearned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings pitched, Maeda was praised by batterymate A.J. Ellis.
“He should have a lot of confidence with the way these Major League hitters are reacting to the baseball,” Ellis said. “The White Sox threw their A team out there today, that’s probably going to be their Opening Day lineup, and we saw what he was able to do.”
Although the White Sox managed to make better contact against Maeda than the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics did, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt attributed some of that to Maeda working to refine his arsenal of pitches.
“A couple of the early hits were right-handers when [Maeda] was working on his change-up. I think that’s part of it, learning his pitches,” Honeycutt said.
“Every inning he made pitches and he should’ve had four clean innings. He elevates the ball extremely well, the ball really jumps out of his hand.”
As the Dodgers are doing with Clayton Kershaw, Maeda will receive one extra day of rest before his next start. With the regular season drawing closer, Maeda and the other starting pitchers who are at the same stage should throw five inning’s worth in their next outing.
Maeda was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and averaged 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings in eight seasons with the Hiroshima Carp. Last season, he went 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA in 29 starts (206.1 innings pitched). The 27 year old posted a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last six seasons, including a career-best 1.53 ERA in 2012.