Dodgers @ Cubs April 23, 2019: Maeda vs. Quintana

After taking three of four in Milwaukee, the Dodgers have now won seven of their last eight to put themselves at 15-9. That .625 winning percentage is now the highest in the NL. The Cubs (10-10), are seemingly catching stride as well, winning five of their last six.

Yesterday, the Dodgers were off for the first time since April 4, meaning Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler, and Ross Stripling will all be pitching on six days rest. Maeda will start tonight against the left-handed Jose Quintana. Quintana faced the Dodgers only once last year, but in 2017 the Dodgers famously torched him for six runs in the first two innings of NLCS Game 5.

Dodgers
Cubs
5:05 p.m.
Chicago, IL.
2B
Hernandez
RF
Zobrist
3B
Turner
3B
Bryant
1B
Freese
1B
Rizzo
SS
Seager
SS
Baez
CF
Pollock
LF
Schwarber
RF
Bellinger
C
Contreras
LF
Taylor 2B Descalso
C
Barnes
CF
Heyward
P
Maeda (R)
P
Quintana (L)

Tonight’s lineup features only two left-handed batters in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger who are both everyday starters unless resting. Besides that, David Freese makes his eighth start of the year at first, while Chris Taylor makes just his seventh start of the year in left field. Taylor currently has a 49 wRC+, ranking 198th of 228 batters with at least 60 plate appearances. That also puts him at the lowest of the 11 Dodgers with at least 30 PA. Hopefully he finds a way out of his slump soon. It’s all tiny sample sizes so far, but in terms of offensive splits against LHP, Enrique Hernandez leads the team with a 297 wRC+, A.J. Pollock is at 159, Bellinger 153, Taylor 122, while interestingly Seager (48) and Justin Turner (22) have been the worst on the team.

Maeda has been decent to start the year with a 3-1 record and a 3.80 ERA. His strikeouts are down from last year at only a 20.6% strikeout rate compared to 28.8% in 2018. His walks are also up from 8.1% last season to 10.3% this year. This explains the difference between his 3.80 ERA and 4.88 FIP. While the strikeouts and control haven’t been where they normally are, there’s still been positives from his first few starts. He’s had the fifth-lowest hard-contact rate of 147 starters at 22.4%. Naturally, this means he’s forcing the second highest soft-contact rate at 29.9%. Of 151 starters with at least 25 balls put in play against them, Maeda’s average exit velocity allowed of 81.1 MPH is the lowest in baseball. That’s fantastic and hopefully the command and strikeouts follow.

Quintana has had a very interesting yet solid start to his season. Overall he’s at a 3.43 ERA and 3.20 FIP over his first 21 innings, but he gave up eight runs in three innings to the Brewers in the beginning of April, and he’s given up no runs in the other 18 innings. His stats show that he’s been solid, but that might not be indicative of how he’s performing currently, as he’s allowed only ten hits and one walk while striking out 18 over his last two starts. He’s upped his strikeout rate so far to 31.5%, good for 12th in baseball, and additionally his BABIP of .377 is the sixth highest in baseball which is unlikely to continue moving forward. He’s coming off a strong start allowing only six hits while striking out seven over seven scoreless innings against the Marlins. Quintana seems like he has pretty normal splits every season, where he’s tough against LHB and only slightly worst against RHB. He’s a tough pitcher, hence why the Dodgers have their right-handed heavy lineup starting.

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In other news:

Rich Hill is apparently done with his rehab starts and understandably so after demolishing some kids in extended spring training. It appears he’s lined up to start next Sunday against the Pirates.

Julio Urias has now been moved into the bullpen which was bound to happen as Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill were able to join the starting rotation.

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First pitch is at 5:05 PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.