Dodgers News: Kenta Maeda ‘A Little Surprised’ By Dave Roberts’ Quick Hook In NLCS Game 5
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

When the National League Division Series was tied at one game apiece, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts named Kenta Maeda the starter for Game 5. But Roberts added the caveat that the club was “open to adjusting.”

That “adjusting” was of course instead handing the ball to one Clayton Kershaw. However, after the Dodgers took a series lead, Roberts reiterated Maeda remained the probable. The rookie manager maintained that stance the day prior to Game 5.

The club did not see it necessary to again start Kershaw on short rest when taking into account the Dodgers were not facing elimination.

Robert was confident in Maeda prior to Game 5. “Just seeing Kenta [Wednesday] night in the dugout, this guy is a fighter, he’s determined,” Roberts said.

“And I just — I’ve said it before, every time he takes the mound, I feel good. And this is no different. I think that he’s going to rise to the occasion.”

By the fourth inning, Roberts did not trust Maeda to retire Jon Lester. With two outs and runners on first and second base, Josh Fields was called on to end the inning. Lester flied out to left a second time in the game.

“I felt that at 3.2 (innings), [Maeda] was around 75 pitches, and I felt that he was starting to lose that fastball command, and I thought the breaking ball wasn’t as sharp,” Roberts explained of his decision.

“Lester put a good swing on that ball in his first at-bat, and so I didn’t see Kenta getting Fowler, so I liked the Fields matchup, if for some reason we lost Lester. So, at that point in time, I wanted to make the move, too, knowing that Kenta wasn’t going to get Fowler anyway. So I felt that Fields can go in there, throw strikes and beat Lester with velocity.”

For Maeda, it was a third consecutive postseason start in which he failed to throw more than four innings. “I was a little surprised (with being removed),” he said through interpreter Will Ireton.

“My job as a starter is to go deep in the game and I couldn’t do that. As a result, it put a lot of stress on the entire team.”

Three of the first four Cubs batter reached safely. Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Maeda managed to limit the damage by striking out Javier Baez and Jason Heyward to end the inning.

As for the fateful fourth inning, Baez led off with a double and Maeda hit Heyward with a pitch to put two on with nobody out. The right-hander did come right back to retire the next two batters faced.

“I was focused all game, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” Maeda said. While Fields and Grant Dayton gave the Dodgers a combined 1.1 scoreless innings, Joe Blanton allowed another home run on a hanging slider, and Pedro Baez was hurt by soft contact and errors.

As a result, the Cubs lead the NLCS three games to two and are one win away from their first trip to the World Series since 1945.