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.
Kenta Maeda's rehab start for @RCQuakes is over after 4 IP and 62 pitches. Allowed 3 Rs (1 ER) on 6 H (all 1Bs) 2 BB 1 K. Starts Thurs in LA
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) May 20, 2017
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.