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Dodgers rotation stretched thin but performing in May

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers starting rotation has acquitted itself quite well so far in May despite suffering several blows. The last trip through was especially effective, starting with Kenta Maeda last Thursday in Miami. Maeda takes the ball in Wednesday night’s rubber game against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

Maeda pitched eight scoreless innings against the Marlins in his last start, the second-longest of his career. He allowed only two singles, and retired his final 17 batters faced. Maeda struck out eight and walked none, the seventh time in eight starts he has walked two or fewer.

Beginning with that game last Thursday, Dodgers starters have allowed six total runs in 31 innings with 28 strikeouts and two walks. In May Dodgers starters have a 3.06 ERA, which is even more impressive without Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu after the first two days of the month.

Ross Stripling has filled in admirably and Brock Stewart was effective in his four innings in a spot start on Tuesday.

“I thought he pitched well enough to get another opportunity,” manager Dave Roberts said of Stewart.

The Dodgers might not have much of a choice but to give Stewart another start, with Rich Hill on the disabled list and Kershaw set to throw a simulated game on Saturday. After an off day this Thursday the Dodgers play games for 10 straight days and Kershaw likely won’t be ready the next time through the rotation. That leaves the door open for another spot start for Stewart.

It also highlights just how thin the Dodgers’ starting depth is stretched at the moment, something that was a worry even back in spring training before 60% of the rotation went on the DL. It makes Maeda critical to the Dodgers’ success.

On Wednesday Maeda has a chance to avoid allowing four or more runs for a second straight start, something he has yet to do this season. Dodgers starting pitchers have allowed four or more runs 11 times this season (four times by Maeda), and are 1-10.

When their starting pitchers allow three or fewer runs, the Dodgers are 20-17.

Maeda faces a Rockies offense that has scored five total runs in the first two games of the series, and ranks last in the National League in wRC+ (74), 14th in OPS+ (78) and 11th in runs scored per game (4.00).

In seven career games against Colorado, including five starts, Maeda has is 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA. Only one of those starts, and one relief appearance, has been at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers will face a red-hot Kyle Freeland, 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his last five starts, with 32 strikeouts and nine walks in 34 innings. He has lasted at least 6⅓ innings in all five of those starts.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA