Dodgers turn to Maeda against Padres

Field Level Media

The Los Angeles Dodgers will try a rotation shuffle Wednesday night when they conclude a brief two-game series and a long nine-game homestand with a matchup against the San Diego Padres.

An improved Kenta Maeda (4-2, 4.03 ERA) was moved into Wednesday's starting slot ahead of a struggling Rich Hill, who was moved back to Friday's opener of a series at Cincinnati.

One reason Maeda was preferred against the Padres over Hill: His current revival began during a start against the Padres at San Diego on May 5.

His adjustments carried over to a start against the Washington Nationals on Friday when he gave up just one hit over six scoreless innings.

"I had a good feeling on my pitches around the fifth and sixth innings in my outing at San Diego," Maeda said through an interpreter after his start against the Nationals. "The biggest difference was my slider. I had a good feeling on the break and I was able to carry that over (Friday)."

The Dodgers had lost three consecutive Maeda starts, including the one at San Diego, which inspired the experimentation. The Padres scored four runs in four innings off Maeda the last time they faced him, but following an RBI double by Greg Garcia, Maeda retired the last eight batters he faced.

The Dodgers' right-hander is 5-3 in 14 appearances (12 starts) against the Padres in his career with a 4.55 ERA.

One pitcher who knows about a change in pitching plans is Padres left-hander Matt Strahm (1-2, 3.00), who will start opposite Maeda on Wednesday. Strahm was a reliever for most of his first three big league seasons with just a handful of starts to his name.

This year, Strahm has taken to his first full-time starting chance in the major leagues. After a rough 2019 debut when he gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he has a 1.98 ERA over his next six outings.

Strahm has not faced the Dodgers this year, but he did have a two-inning "opener" start against the Dodgers on May 27 of last year. He faced the Dodgers four times in 2018, his only career matchups against them, delivering a 1.50 ERA over six innings.

He is coming off a victory over the New York Mets last Wednesday when he gave up two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings in a Padres victory. The Padres have won four of his last five starts.

Padres shortstop Manny Machado will look to give Strahm the run support he needs. Machado hit a home run off Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, his second against the Dodgers' lefty this season. He has two against Rich Hill, which also helps explain why Maeda is pitching instead Wednesday.

Four of Machado's nine home runs this season have come against the team he played 66 games for last season and helped guide into the World Series. Machado is on a seven-game hitting streak, batting .393 (11-for-28) over that stretch.

"He's looked good for a while," manager Andy Green said of Machado, according to "He had some really good swings in the (previous) Dodgers series, and overall he's in a good spot."

Despite a split in a four-game series against the Nationals this past weekend, the Dodgers are 6-2 on the current homestand.

--Field Level Media

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