Dodgers’ Player Previews: Kenta Maeda Anchors the End of the Rotation
The Dodgers’ rotation was hit by a laundry list of injuries in 2018. They will look to avoid injuries in 2019 and feature a deep rotation with Kenta Maeda at the end of it.
Since signing an extremely team friendly deal with the Dodgers at the beginning of 2016, Kenta Maeda has been an underrated part of the Dodger rotation. In 2018, the rotation was hit with an array of injuries but Maeda was one of the anchors of the rotation as he made sixteen starts in the first half of the rotation, which was when the Dodger rotation was injury bitten.
Maeda had a rough April with an ERA of 4.64 but then he settled in and finished the first half of the season with a 3.12 ERA. In the second half of the season, Kenta was removed from the rotation and as he has done unselfishly since joining the Dodgers, he has pitched in whatever role the club has needed him to. Long man in the pen, setup reliever, or starting pitcher, Kenta is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Dodgers win.
While Kenta’s 3.81 ERA in 2018 was not the lowest of his career, his numbers should have been better according to his 3.22 FIP. Maeda’s 10.9 K/9IP was the highest strikeout rate of his career in the states, so it will be interesting to see what kind of strikeout numbers he posts this season.
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Kenta used his changeup more in 2018 and it became a very effective pitch for him especially when he got diving action on it. He increased the usage rate of his change in 2018 to a career high 15.2%. The main goal for Kenta in 2019 is to hit the two hundred innings mark for the very first time and stick in the rotation for the duration of the regular season. Both are things that have not yet been accomplished in the Major Leagues by Maeda.
Depending how the Dodgers choose to align their rotation, Kenta will be the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation. No matter which slot he pitches out of, Kenta Maeda will be one of the best fourth or fifth starters in baseball and certainly has the ability to out perform the traditional statistics of the average bottom of the rotation pitcher.
Thanks to the team friendly contract he agreed to, the Dodgers have Maeda under contract through the 2023 season. The 2019 season will be his fourth season in the big leagues and Kenta will look to accomplish some of the feats he has yet to reach. The Dodgers will once again feature one of the best rotations in baseball and Maeda will anchor the bottom of the rotation.