Kenta Maeda needs a confidence boost.
It’s too early to be overly concerned about performance, but Maeda has struggled thus far. His Thursday start was pushed back a day for Julio Urias’ promotion, but also to give him an extra day of rest.
Maeda starts tomorrow and Roberts said it's important for Maeda's confidence to have a good start.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) April 27, 2017
Maeda finished third for Rookie of The Year in 2016. He set a goal of pitching 200 innings this season. But it’s been an early battle to even make it to the 6th inning of his starts.
Maeda owns an 8.05 ERA. He’s given up seven home runs in 19 innings, an extremely troubling trend.
Michael Beller at Sports Illustrated wrote about Maeda’s slump, pointing to an increased fly ball rate. It’s a highly encouraged read.
“Specifically, his fly-ball rate is up to 53.4% this season after sitting at 35.7% last year,” Beller writes. “A season-long fly-ball rate north of 50% is guaranteed to be among the league leaders, if not the highest in the majors. Starting with the 2010 season, there have been five instances of a pitcher posting a fly-ball rate of 50% or higher. And yes, that is an arbitrary endpoint, but the sample is large enough for us to say with certainty that Maeda is allowing fly balls at a rate that typically leads the league.”
Rich Hill is due back soon, but it seems he may go to the bullpen rather than Alex Wood or Maeda. But given the Dodgers’ depth, it’s not unreasonable to think the team will consider temporarily removing him from the rotation if he has another pair of bad starts.
Maeda’s chance for a rebound comes against a Phillies team that’s playing good baseball right now, and sitting at 10-9 on the year.