If September is any indication, the Dodgers will rely on Kenta Maeda in high-leverage spots late in playoff games — if they reach the postseason. The right-hander has pitched in 10 games this month. He’s entered before the eighth inning twice. The Dodgers held a slim lead or were tied nine times. He’s successfully done his job most days.
On Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, however, Maeda served up a fat fastball to Eduardo Escobar, the first batter he faced, and Escobar clobbered it over the wall for a walkoff home run. A day earlier, Maeda drilled Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker in the face with a 93 mph fastball. Walker gushed blood as a visibly shaken Maeda looked on. The pitch broke bones in Walker’s face and ended his season.
Asked if he believed Monday’s incident contributed to Maeda’s results on Tuesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts dismissed the notion.
“I think Kenta, with everything that has transpired the last couple days, I think he’s fine,” Roberts said.
Roberts said Maeda wasn’t available Wednesday, not because of the previous two days’ events but because he had pitched on consecutive days. Maeda hasn’t pitched three consecutive days this season.
“I’m not having him down because I think that it’s a psychological thing,” Roberts said.
Maeda, 30, has looked dominant at times since becoming a full-time reliever last month. On Sept. 18 against the Colorado Rockies, the right-hander struck out the side on 10 pitches in the eighth inning of a tie game. The Dodgers went on to win in walkoff fashion, a victory that has proven crucial in what has become a tight playoff race.
Overall, Maeda has give up seven earned runs across 14 innings in 14 relief appearances since Aug. 14. He has 22 strikeouts and only three walks.
Rookie league agreement
The Dodgers announced they renewed their player development agreement with the Ogden Raptors, their rookie league affiliate. Ogden has partnered with the Dodgers since 2003.