Maeda is look­ing for a spot-on start

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Andy McCul­lough andy.mccul­lough@la­times.com Twit­ter: @McCul­loughTimes

CINCIN­NATI — On June 9, in his first out­ing as a re­liever since his rookie sea­son in Ja­pan, Kenta Maeda re­sem­bled the pitcher the Dodgers hoped he could be. Dur­ing a four-in­ning save, he flooded the zone with strikes and op­er­ated with­out fear of ex­pend­ing too much en­ergy too soon. He pitched, in the eyes of man­ager Dave Roberts, with ur­gency.

Maeda (4-3, 4.95 earne­drun av­er­age) did not win his spot back in the start­ing ro­ta­tion with that per­for­mance. But the team will give him a spot start, with the op­por­tu­nity for his role to ex­pand, on Sun­day in Cincin­nati, against the same Reds team he faced in re­lief last week. Maeda in­tends to use the strat­egy that served him so well com­ing out of the bullpen.

“At­tack­ing the strike zone, con­stantly be­ing on the ag­gres­sive side re­ally helped,” Maeda said. “I think that’s what I’m go­ing to plan to do. As a starter, I was con­cerned about pitch counts. But this time, I’m just go­ing to at­tack.”

The Dodgers in­serted Maeda into Sun­day’s game to pro­vide their other five starters with an ex­tra day of rest. The team has just be­gun a stretch of 20 games with­out a day off.

Maeda could con­vince his team to give him an­other chance be­yond Sun­day. Rich Hill (3-3, 5.14 ERA) sur­ren­dered seven runs on Thurs­day. Hill spent sev­eral sea­sons as a re­liever, and could shift into the bullpen for a brief in­ter­lude. Much may de­pend on how Maeda per­forms on Sun­day.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the next start,” Maeda said. “Hope­fully it can pro­duce good re­sults.”

Ravin up, Stripling down

Af­ter giv­ing up seven runs in his last two out­ings, Ross Stripling (4.00 ERA) has lost his spot in the Dodgers bullpen. The team op­tioned him to triple-A Ok­la­homa City and re­called re­liever Josh Ravin. Stripling would not have been avail­able for a day or two, so Ravin pro­vides cov­er­age for the bullpen.

But Roberts also in­di­cated that Stripling can use his time in the mi­nors to de­com­press and re­group. Roberts sounded con­cerned about the qual­ity of Stripling’s pitches on Thurs­day against Cleve­land.

“He’s a part of what we’re do­ing right now, and we need him to be good, go­ing for­ward,” Roberts said. “Just men­tally, to get away, to re­set will be very ben­e­fi­cial for him.”

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