Maeda allowed two hits over four scoreless innings, striking out six and walking none, in the Dodgers' 12-0 Cactus League victory over the Padres on Thursday. Maeda is having a strong spring, as his latest effort brought his Cactus League ERA down to 2.70 and his K:BB to 15:1 over his 10 innings of work. The right-hander threw 125.1 innings splitting time between the Dodgers' rotation and the bullpen last season, and he could top that number this year if manager Dave Roberts decides to leave him as a fixture at the back end of the club's rotation, where he's slated to begin the season.
Maeda recorded four strikeouts across three perfect innings during Saturday's spring start against the Mariners. Maeda has looked good to start spring training as he has allowed only two hits and one walk while striking out nine over six innings (three starts). The 30-year-old is slated to once again begin the season in the Dodgers' starting rotation.
Manager Dave Roberts said Maeda will be in the starting rotation to begin the 2019 season, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post reports. Maeda has also begun the previous two seasons as a starter only to eventually be moved to the bullpen, which seems plausible again in 2019. The Dodgers have a plethora of legitimate options for their starting rotation already on the roster and could still acquire additional talent this offseason, so the 30-year-old's role on the team could very well change by the time Opening Day comes around.
Maeda struck out one in a two-out save against the Rockies on Friday. Maeda came into the ninth inning with a two-run lead and got DJ LeMahieu to fly out before striking out Nolan Arenado to earn his second save of the year. Closer Kenley Jansen (chest) is ruled out for the series against the Rockies, so save opportunities fall to Maeda and Ryan Madson for the time being. With Madson having pitched in three of the last four games, it made sense for the ball to be given to the more-rested Maeda.
Maeda and Ryan Madson figure to be top candidates to close games during the Dodgers' weekend series against Colorado, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Kenley Jansen (chest) didn't travel with the team to Colorado as a precaution, so Los Angeles will adopt a closer-by-committee approach against the Rockies with Madson and Maeda first in line for save opportunities, although Madison is likely unavailable Friday after pitching Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.