Dodgers: What Will Rich Hill’s Return Do to the Starting Rotation?

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 07: Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 7, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 07: Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on August 7, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – APRIL 23: Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 23, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Kenta Maeda

Everyone’s favorite choice to send to the bullpen, Maeda has been one of the strongest Dodgers no matter his role over the last few seasons. And if you are a fan of this site you’re sure to have seen plenty of pro-Maeda coverage. Here’s some of the pro-Maeda coverage from the last six weeks of Dodgers Way.

On Wednesday, here was Michael Wittman’s case for Maeda:

"Coming into his start Tuesday night, Maeda had made four starts and three of them had been quality starts. 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+"

Six weeks ago, I articulated the case for Maeda’s place in the rotation, and against the Dodgers’ potential plan for sending him to the bullpen just like last season.

"But either way, Maeda should not have to battle for a starting rotation spot. He is an elite pitcher on an inning-per-inning basis. Even if he is a strong bullpen piece, his value, both monetarily and to the team’s chances of winning games he pitches in, improves the more he pitches. To use more per-inning statistics, Maeda ranks sixth amongst Dodger pitchers who have started 9 or more games for the team over the last three seasons, and fourth among pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings for the team in K/9 and has the seventh-lowest BB/9 amongst Dodger starters with more than 49 innings with the team. Using swinging strike percentage, a measure that looks at what percentage of pitches opposing hitters swung and missed at, Maeda ranks 12th amongst all  Dodger pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings total over the last three seasons with a mark of 12.7%, placing him ahead of both Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu."

As I hope the above statistics prove, Maeda really is at least as talented on the mound as any pitcher he is competing to stay in the starting rotation. If he is as healthy as he seems right now, the team should ride him into the playoffs, when it would make the most sense to transition Maeda into the bullpen.

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