Kenta Maeda improved slightly upon his strong strikeout and walk rates from his rookie season, but he missed time due to injury and was relegated to the bullpen on a couple of occasions. The Dodgers were also conservative in his starts, limiting Maeda's exposure to opposing lineups -- Maeda threw more than five innings just seven times all year, which led to a 40-inning drop in regular-season workload. Maeda throws five different pitches and he mixes them reasonably well, but he induced fewer swings on pitches out of the strike zone overall (29.9 percent O-Swing rate), struggled on the road (5.62 ERA) and continued to run into trouble against lefties (.263/.322/.458). Perhaps the biggest thing working against Maeda in fantasy is the fact that the Dodgers have evolved past the "workhorse" mentality, instead using the 10-day DL to rotate guys and keep them fresh. The skills are solid, but Maeda's workload will likely be capped once again.
Maeda was officially named as the Dodgers' third starter to kick off the regular season, Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register reports. The club had been increasing the veteran's workload all spring in anticipation to start, but there was always the risk that one of the back-end starters could get bumped in favor of the promising Walker Buehler. That scenario was put to rest when the rookie was sent to the minors earlier this week, officially securing a rotation spot for Maeda. The 29-year-old took a step back from his solid rookie season in 2017, posting a 4.22 ERA and receiving a brief demotion to the bullpen. Despite his struggles, he posted a strong 4.1 K/BB ratio, giving him value when he was being used as a starter. The Dodgers' starting pitcher options have dwindled from last year's 10-man pool, but Maeda will still have to carryover his success from the playoffs last season in order to preserve his spot in the rotation once Buehler gets called up.
Maeda gave up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out four over three innings in a spring win over the Royals on Friday. Maeda worked around a leadoff home run to Whit Merrifield to turn in a solid pitching line. The veteran has seen his workload increase with each spring outing -- including an additional inning in the bullpen following this start -- which suggests he will begin the 2018 campaign in the Dodgers' rotation. We saw mixed results from Maeda in his sophomore season (primarily as a starter) after he posted a 4.22 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 9.4 K/9 over 134.1 innings. The key difference between his rookie year and last season was a sharp increase in home runs allowed (1.5 HR/9). If he can keep the ball down, Maeda has a chance to hold down his rotation spot all season.
Maeda threw two shutout innings while logging one stikeout and one walk in Tuesday's Cactus League outing against the Rangers. Maeda ended the 2017 season as one of the Dodgers' most reliable postseason relievers. Over 10.2 innings, he allowed just one run while posting a 10:2 K:BB. Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register reported that Maeda is on track to open the upcoming season as a member of the Dodgers' rotation. Manager Dave Roberts has said that he wants Maeda to continue aggressively pitching in the strike zone, an approach which was effective during Los Angeles' most recent postseason run.
Manager Dave Roberts said Maeda is expected to start next season, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Maeda will return to the rotation after pitching out of the Dodgers' bullpen during the playoffs. He finished the 2017 season with a 4.22 ERA and 140:34 K:BB across 25 starts and four relief appearances. Given the Dodgers' depth at starting pitcher, Maeda will likely be stuck at the back end of the staff.
Maeda was shifted to the bullpen following his start against the Phillies on Thursday, David Vassegh of AM 570 LA Sports reports. The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter for the remainder of the season thanks to a team off day next week, so Maeda will head back to the bullpen as the team gears up for the playoffs. Maeda was never expected to make the Dodgers' postseason rotation with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Rich Hill ahead of him, so this move isn't all too surprising. The 29-year-old spent some time in the bullpen earlier in the season, allowing just one run in five innings while striking out seven batters in a pair of appearances. Look for him to serve as an important multi-inning reliever for the Dodgers down the stretch.