Dodgers: Disappointments and Surprises 3 Weeks Into the Year

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Apr 23, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks on against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Dodgers won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks on against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Dodgers won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 22, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) reacts after giving up a home run to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda (18) reacts after giving up a home run to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

Kenta Maeda’s struggles:

With the main concern of the rotation being its health, Kenta Maeda looked like a solid option for the rotation. I, for one, did not see Kenta looking this bad to begin the year.

Maeda was a reliable number two starter for the team last season and was expected to serve that same role this season. As we all know, Maeda has been anything but impressive in his first four starts of the year.

In case you needed a brutal reminder, Kenta has given up 17 runs in 19 innings of work, including seven home runs. Yeah, that’s less than ideal. Accompany that with his command struggles and there are definite reasons to be nervous.

The main cause of concern for me would be Kenta’s increased fly ball rate. In his four starts this season, more than half of the balls put in play against him have been in the air, and 20% of the fly balls have turned into homers, an unsustainable rate. However, the fact that he is allowing so many fly balls is concerning and will still lead to a large dosage of home runs even if that 20% was to regress to the mean.

What could be causing this? I could say it has to do with him relying on his slider less, fastball much more, and his lack of fastball command. His fastball has gone up a tick in terms of velocity but it looks to have disturbed his placement as he has served up quite a few meatballs with it thus far.

If the Dodgers have any hopes of making it to the playoffs, let alone Fall Classic, Kenta will need to correct his course. On a brighter note, someone has stepped up in a big way for the rotation.

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