Kenta Maeda took the final step in his return to the rotation Friday.

Maeda completed his last rehab start in Rancho. He threw a scheduled four innings, giving up six singles and three runs. The numbers aren’t pretty, but note that rehab starts are more about how the player physically feels, not the stat line.

As Bill Plunkett acknowledges, Maeda starts for L.A. against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Maeda’s had a rocky start, collecting a 5.03 ERA across 39.1 innings. The slow start is a continuation from his late-season decline in 2016 after bursting onto the scene as a rookie. But his most recent start was his finest: Maeda threw a career-high 8.1 innings.

He was placed on the disabled list a day later with what the team called hamstring tightness. That reasoning was questionable, and the Los Angeles Times reported that the MLB looked into the matter.

Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy have been stellar to start the year. The young Julio Urias will remain in the rotation as well. Maeda’s performance will determine if he keeps the last spot. If his latest showing was any indication, he’s on the right track.

Justin Turner was placed on the DL Friday

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Gabe Burns is an award-winning journalist. He serves as a reporter and editor at the DodgersNation news desk. He additionally works as editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student paper. Gabe's work has been featured on a number of platforms, including Draft Breakdown and Pro Football Spot. His byline has been cited in media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Aside from covering Dodgers baseball, Gabe enjoys watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning. He can be followed on Twitter at @GabeBurns_DN.

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