Dodgers News: Kenta Maeda Believes He Can Have Better Season Than Rookie Year
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2016 season the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Kenta Maeda out of Japan and veteran Scott Kazmir to round out their starting rotation. Like others who have made the jump stateside, Maeda faced questions about his durability and whether success would carry over.

The concern was furthered when an MRI revealed only what was described as irregularities in his right elbow. Yet Maeda was one of the few starters to avoid a stint on the disabled list, and he went on to lead the Dodgers in starts (32) and innings pitched (175.2).

Maeda went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 1.14 WHIP, and finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting. Fatigue set in down the stretch, as pitching every five days for the first time in his career eventually took its toll.

Set to make his 2017 debut on Tuesday, Maeda believes he is better prepared for a sophomore campaign, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:

“I think I’m better prepared now,” Maeda, who went 16-11 with a 3.48 earned-run average last season, said through an interpreter. “So I think I can have a better season than last year.”

Earlier this year the 28-year-old set a goal of throwing 200 innings in 2017. Maeda reached that benchmark in half of his eight seasons pitching in Japan.

This spring he pitched to a 3.00 ERA while walking four and striking out 15 in as many innings pitched across five starts. Maeda was moved to second in the Dodgers rotation as a means of breaking up left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill.