Dodgers: Kenta Maeda Remains an Underappreciated Starting Pitcher
Despite his rough start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night, Kenta Maeda remains one of the most underappreciated starting pitchers.
First off, let’s get this out of the way; Kenta Maeda was not very good on Tuesday night. With an inconsistent home plate umpire, he picked the wrong night to try and nibble at the corners. Coming into his start Tuesday night, Maeda had made four starts and three of them had been quality starts.
After last night’s start, Maeda’s ERA stands at 5.20 but that should go down pretty quickly as Kenta gets more starts in. With Rich Hill set to return on Sunday, the Dodgers are going to have to send one starter to the bullpen and it will likely be Ross Stripling. One reason is because of Kenta’s highly incentivized contract, and the other is that Maeda is a very solid pitcher in his own right.
Prior to last night’s start, here were Kenta’s career stats in the big leagues compared to two very good pitchers in Marcus Stroman and Chris Archer:
Maeda: 3.80 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 106 ERA+
Stroman: 3.82 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 111 ERA+
Archer: 3.70 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 107 ERA+
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The reason I chose Archer and Stroman is that both starters have been linked to the Dodgers in trade rumors over the past few seasons and both are considered to be aces or at least top of the rotation starters. Kenta Maeda slots in as the Dodgers’ fourth or fifth starter which is lower than he would slot in any other rotation in baseball.
Due to his past success in the bullpen, and the potential in Julio Urias’ left arm, there is a good chance that Kenta Maeda will transition to the bullpen later on in the season. In the meantime, he gives the Dodgers a solid back end of the rotation option and while he will certainly have his share of bad starts, the same can be said for every other starting pitcher in baseball.
Part of the reason that Maeda gets highly criticized is due to the Dodgers having two other above-average options in Julio Urias and Ross Stripling. The Dodgers’ rotation depth goes even deeper beyond those two with prospects waiting in the wings like Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May.
When he is asked to go to the pen there will be argument from Kenta although you know he would rather be in the starting rotation. That is the team first attitude that many of the Dodgers on their deep forty man roster have and Maeda is just one example. It was a rough start for Kenta, but next time out, expect the same quality start he has given the Dodgers in three of his five starts.