One of the biggest questions that flew in after this adventurous offseason was “how will the Los Angeles Dodgers replace Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Greinke?” in the rotation. The team went out and signed a couple of pitchers, but one of them has taken over the sport because of his unwavering dominance just four starts into his career.
Right-hander Kenta Maeda has not only replaced Zack Greinke for the time being, but he’s also outperformed Greinke. Through his first four starts last season, Greinke was masterful and had a 1.35 in 26.2 innings. In his first four starts this season, Maeda has a 0.36 ERA in 25.1 innings. Maeda’s recorded four fewer outs, but given up two fewer runs.
He is going to hit a rough patch at some point, but he has the temperament and skills to ride that out and be a contributor to the team for years. People keep asking how the Dodgers can possibly replace Zack Greinke. Well, look on the mound when Maeda pitches.
As Mitchell notes, Maeda will hit a rough patch. He absolutely has to. No pitcher is going to dominate like this over a full season. It’s just not possible, and the BABIP gods will surely rear their ugly heads at some point because that’s what happens in baseball. But, for now, love what you’re seeing out of the Japanese import on the mound every fifth day.
You also have to commend manager Dave Roberts for not overusing him. In some of the four starts, Roberts could have stretched Maeda out and let him work through a seventh, or even an eighth, inning. However, Roberts has bigger goals in mind, and Maeda is a part of those goals. They’ll have to keep him healthy and fresh, and a healthy and fresh Maeda is dominating right now.