Kenta Maeda has gotten off to a confusing start to the 2019 season and not much of it, up until very recently, has been overly positive.
The 31-year-old Japanese born pitcher was a starter from the jump after battling Ross Stripling for the final spot in the rotation (a spot Stripling would get anyway due to injuries).
Ultimately beating Stripling, the Dodgers sent the 29-year-old All-Star to the bullpen and let Maeda keep his starting spot.
However, Maeda’s numbers showed that it should have in fact been him to the bullpen and Stripling in the rotation.
Batters leading off an inning against Maeda are hitting .306 with a .370 on-base percentage. Maeda’s risk per inning is through the rough and subtle inconsistencies have plagued him to start the season.
That was all up until his last two starts.
Going back to his May 10 start against the Nationals, Maeda has not given up a run in his last 12.2 innings pitched. In those frames, the righty has struck out 18 batters and has surrendered just four hits.
It was a hot streak and not the norm but Maeda was undeniable in his last two starts.
The problem is he’s now inactive.
Maeda fouled a ball off his thigh in his most recent start against the Padres on May 15. The Dodgers, a team quick to put players on the IL, placed Maeda on the shelf with what they are calling a left abductor contusion.
However, the Dodgers have two off days next week and only truly need four starters. This move was precautionary and probably more to just get some new faces and fresh arms on the roster. The question will be whether or not the time off hurts Maeda’s hot hand.