Maeda will return to a long relief role once he is ready to pitch after throwing five innings Sunday, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports.
Maeda was solid against Cincinnati, as he held them to one run on three hits over five innings. But he has been inconsistent in the starting role this season, and with the Dodgers finally somewhat healthy in their rotation, he will be relegated to a swingman role. Expect him to make more starts this season, but it will require an injury in Los Angeles's rotation to open a slot for him.
Maeda (5-3) allowed one run on three hits and one walk across five innings in Sunday's win over the Reds. He struck out five.
Maeda didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, when he loaded the bases before hitting a batter to plate the only run on his ledger. He was quite sharp for the most part, throwing 69 percent of his pitches for strikes, including 12 in swinging fashion. Maeda's previous appearance came out of the bullpen after he had been inconsistent as a starter, but he has looked much better over the last two outings, allowing just two runs with 11 strikeouts compared to one walk across nine innings. The 29-year-old is not currently scheduled to make another start in the immediate future, but his role could be fluid moving forward.
Maeda is expected to start Sunday's game against the Reds, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Maeda's next appearance was supposed to come out of the bullpen this week, but manager Dave Roberts will choose to deploy him in the rotation later in the week in order to afford his starting pitchers an extra day of rest. The 29-year-old owns a 4.95 ERA and 59:17 K:BB through 56.1 innings this year (10 starts, one relief appearance).
Manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday that Maeda's next relief outing will likely be Wednesday or Thursday against the Indians, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
The Dodgers are being strategic with Maeda's usage out of the bullpen and tentatively plan to have him piggyback on the start of either Brandon McCarthy on Wednesday or Rich Hill on Thursday against the defending AL champs. The veteran hurler will likely remain in the bullpen until an injury opens a spot in the rotation.
Maeda tossed four innings of one-run ball while striking out six in relief Friday, picking up his first career save in the process.
It was a successful debut in the bullpen for the 29-year-old, who was recently booted from the rotation to make way for Alex Wood (shoulder). While he earned the rare four-inning save Friday, Maeda won't be seeing save opportunities regularly as a long reliever. His fantasy value is diminished in this role, but he could return to relevance should a spot in the rotation open up again.
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