It was an up-and-down year for Kenta Maeda. After a strong first-half, Maeda struggled during the second-half of the season. He was sent to the bullpen in the middle of August, where he remained for the rest of the season.
What went right
Up until July 24, Maeda was experiencing his best year so far in the majors. His ERA was 3.12, and he was averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, both career highs.
His dominance was coming against right-handed hitters, as they were hitting under .200 against him. He was averaging over 12 strikeouts per nine innings, and his WHIP was just over one (1.03).
From the end of June until middle July, Maeda had a four-game stretch in which he had nine strikeoutsin each game . He went 3-1, and threw 25 1⁄3 innings.
Though his ERA was over four in the postseason, he gave one of the better relief performances in recent memory for the Dodgers. During an 18-inning affair in game 3 of the World Series, Maeda threw two innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen. Five of the six outs he recorded came via the strikeout.
What went wrong
The second half of the season wasn’t as smooth for Maeda. Over the last two months, his ERA was 5.35. He allowed 23 runs in just 38 2⁄3 innings, including seven home runs.
Maeda struggled vitally against lefties during this stretch. He had an ERA of 7.24 against them, and left-handed hitters batted .333 against him. Facing 68 lefties during the stretch, Maeda allowed 20 hits, 11 runs, and seven walks.
In the middle of August, Maeda was demoted to the bullpen. Things got off to a rough start, as he had an ERA of 6.14 through his first six appearances. Maeda ultimately settled down, finishing with a 3.86 ERA as a reliever.
Stats: 8-10, 3.81 ERA, 153 SO, 125 1⁄3 IP, 3.22 FIP, 1.261 WHIP
Game of the year
Maeda had one of the best outings of his career on May 17 in Miami. He threw eight innings of shutout ball, allowing only two hits. To make things even better, he struck out eight and allowed zero walks.
Maeda is signed through 2023.