Preview: Kenta Maeda Looks To Break Slump As Dodgers Go For Sweep Of Blue Jays
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers boast arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. Lately, however, they have done so despite Kenta Maeda rather than because of him.

Maeda has a 6.35 ERA over his past five starts, even though that includes seven scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 10. That outing remains the only time in this recent stretch where Maeda made it out of the fifth inning.

Luckily for him, though, his start Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays takes place at Dodger Stadium. Maeda has been dramatically better there this season, recording a 2.84 ERA while opponents are hitting just .176 with a .551 on-base plus slugging percentage against him.

By comparison, Maeda has a 5.67 ERA on the road, with opponents hitting .245 with a .764 OPS against him. Maeda’s strikeout to walk ratio is also nearly double at home (4.67) than it is away from Dodger Stadium (2.39).

Maeda actually has a previous start against the Blue Jays, which came during his rookie season in 2016. He threw six innings and allowed three runs, though that outing came against a veteran-heavy contending roster that eventually reached the American League Championship Series.

The 2019 Blue Jays look dramatically different as they are in the midst of a rebuild around young, promising stars such as Vladimir Gurrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. One highlight of this series for the Jays came when Bichette homered twice off Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night.

Only veteran infielder Brandon Drury, who spent the first part of his career with the Diamondbacks, has any sort of substantial experience against Maeda. He owns a .429 batting average and two RBI in seven career at-bats.

The Dodgers have a chance to sweep the Blue Jays on Wednesday thanks to the heroics of Max Muncy, whose walk-off home run in the 10th inning gave his team a 2-1 win. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Muncy has homered.

Meanwhile, Muncy’s 33rd home run and 87th RBI of the season kept him on pace to join Cody Bellinger as the first two left-handed hitting Dodgers to record 100 RBI in the same season. Bellinger reached the mark with a three-run double during the Dodgers’ 16-3 rout of the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Muncy will also likely shatter the career high of 35 home runs that he hit last season and possibly challenge for Shawn Green’s franchise record of 49. However, Bellinger seems much more likely to set the new franchise record this year, as he already has 42 home runs.

The Blue Jays send another unproven rookie pitcher to the mound Wednesday in Jacob Waguespack. Waguespack has a 4.20 ERA in 45 career innings, but has pitched much better of late, allowing just six earned runs in his past 21 innings.

Dodgers lineup:

CF: A.J. Pollock
1B: Max Muncy
3B: Justin Turner
RF: Cody Bellinger
SS: Corey Seager
2B: Kiké Hernandez
LF: Joc Pederson
C: Russell Martin
P: Kenta Maeda

Blue Jays

SS: Bo Bichette
2B: Cavan Biggio
3B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
1B: Rowdy Tellez
CF: Randal Grichuk
RF: Billy McKinney
C: Danny Jansen
LF: Derek Fisher
P: Jacob Waguespack