Dodgers News: Kenta Maeda’s Struggles Leave Dave Roberts Searching For Answers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers were hampered by another short outing from their starter, as Kenta Maeda became the third pitcher in the past four games to only throw four innings. Clayton Kershaw, as he often has, proved to be the exception during that span.

Maeda struggled to put batters away, even when getting ahead in the count, and again allowed a run in the first inning. That came on an Eric Thames solo homer. The Milwaukee Brewers pushed another run across in the second — an inning Maeda issued a leadoff walk in and hit a batter.

He was ahead in the count 0-2 in both plate appearances. Following the Dodgers’ loss, which prevented them from completing a sweep, manager Dave Roberts voiced some frustration and bewilderment with Maeda’s prolonged struggles this season via, Spectrum SportsNet LA:

“We’re trying to put our finger on it, it obviously taxes the bullpen. I know the will and preparation is all there. He gets ahead of hitters but to end the at-bat, put them away, has escaped him. With that, he finds himself running high pitch counts and not going to deep into games. … I’d like to see him go deep into games. Again, when you get ahead of hitters, you have to put them away. I think he starts to be a little too afraid of contact. There’s a lot of non-competitive pitches once he gets ahead. We’ve got to clean that up.”

The 29-year-old has completed five innings or less in eight of 10 starts this season. Despite the lack of length, the Dodgers are 7-3 in Maeda’s starts. Coinciding with his struggles to pitch deep into games, Maeda owns a 10.80 ERA in the first inning.

After seemingly hitting rock bottom against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing four home runs in five innings, Maeda bounced back and threw a minimum of seven innings in two of his next three starts. Some of the success was attributed to incorporating a cutter and reducing usage of a four-seam fastball.

Maeda went a career-high 8.1 innings on May 10, though landed on the 10-day disabled list the following afternoon due to hamstring tightness. He’s yet to produce a similar outing in three starts since coming off the DL.

While Roberts expressed some frustration with Maeda’s results, the right-hander is expected to make his next start.