Maeda is looking for a spot-on start
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.”