Preview: Dave Roberts’ Message For Kenta Maeda Remains Consistent As Dodgers Seek Series Win Vs. Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda makes a relief appearance against the Miami Marlins
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After Walker Buehler’s second career complete game, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter play Sunday in position to earn a series win against the San Diego Padres. L.A. has 106 wins in head-to-head meetings with San Diego since 2011, which is the most by any team against a single opponent, per STATS LLC.

They hand the ball to Kenta Maeda, who Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is hopeful will pitch with an aggressive mindset. “It’s a conversation Kenta and I have quite often,” Roberts said.

“For a guy that has an elite pitch in a split changeup to the lefty and slider to a right-hander, it leaves opportunity to use a fastball. When you can execute a pitch with the fastball to keep guys off the secondaries, it just makes everything else play up. To not always just default to using his secondary, to be ahead of the cat and mouse game, is important.

“If he’s executing his fastball, he’s going to have a good day. If he’s pitching behind and has to rely on his secondaries, it’s going to be a grind. When you see a team as often as Kenta has seen them, they’ve seen Kenta and know what to expect. So you’ve got to be able to be convicted to throw the fastball in certain counts.”

Maeda is 6-4 with a 4.07 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 16 career games (14 starts) against the Padres. He’s 0-6 with a 4.65 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) since last earning a win on May 31 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Despite being winless during that span, Maeda did have one of his best outings against the Padres one month ago. He went 7.2 innings and allowed a manageable three runs on four hits but suffered a tough-luck loss in the Dodgers’ 3-1 defeat.

The Padres counter with standout rookie Chris Paddack, who has pitched to opposite ends of the spectrum in two career starts against the Dodgers. He was roughed up for six runs (three earned) during a May start at Dodger Stadium, then rebounded with 5.2 shutout innings in June.

With Cody Bellinger receiving a day off ahead of likely playing the entire series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Joc Pederson is making a start in right field. Roberts noted it’s the outfield position Pederson feels most comfortable playing.

Justin Turner is also out of the lineup, which has Kristopher Negrón at third base.

Dodgers lineup:

RF: Joc Pederson
LF: Alex Verdugo
SS: Corey Seager
2B: Max Muncy
CF: A.J. Pollock
1B: Matt Beaty
3B: Kristopher Negrón
C: Russell Martin
P: Kenta Maeda

Padres lineup:

SS: Fernando Tatis Jr.
2B: Greg Garcia
3B: Manny Machado
1B: Eric Hosmer
RF: Hunter Renfroe
LF: Josh Naylor
C: Francisco Mejia
CF: Manuel Margot
P: Chris Paddack