With the postseason underway and the Dodgers currently vying to advance to the NLCS, the boys in blue are off to an uneven start.
The Dodgers even in their series against the Washington Nationals, both the offense and pitching came in hot for the Dodgers in game one. The offense was mostly silent in game two against a dominant Stephen Strasburg.
One of the biggest takeaways from the first two games was the reliability and consistency that came from reliever Kenta Maeda.
To no surprise, Maeda entered the postseason as a reliever for the Dodgers. We’ve seen this in years prior, and it’s a role in which he has flourished. Since the 2017 postseason, Maeda has appeared in 18 games out of the bullpen. During this time, his ERA is only 1.89, while holding opponents to a .197 average.
In 2019, Maeda fared well for what was expected out of him. He had an ERA of 4.04 with 169 strikeouts. He held his opponents to a .202 average against him while posting a WHIP of 1.07. Maeda was a consistent starter but he really began to shine towards the end of the season when he was moved to the bullpen.
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When he came into the game as a reliever he had an ERA of 3.24 and batters were hitting .155 against him, significantly better compared to his numbers as a starter. He came in from the bullpen in 11 games and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4-to-1. He made his case to make that postseason roster as a bullpen piece, and he did not disappoint.
In Game one of the NLDS, manager Dave Roberts brought Maeda into the game in the seventh inning in a crucial situation, and he didn’t disappoint. Entering the game with a two-run lead, Maeda exited the game with his team in prime position to win the game, which is exactly what Roberts asked for. He pitched 1 ⅔ scoreless innings, not allowing a hit while striking out two.
If Maeda can keep up the consistency and provide shutout innings as a reliever, then the Dodgers bullpen will be in good hands. Regardless of the Dodgers’ future in the postseason, Maeda has consistently been a reliable arm out of the bullpen in October.
Kenta Maeda is not often thought of as a top reliever for the Dodgers but when the lights turn bright in the postseason, that is exactly what Maeda turns into.