Kenta Maeda is authoring his own special story
By Cary Osborne
By now you know the story of the Rockies shortstop Trevor (Story) and his incredible first four games (six home runs). The pitcher he is facing today has the opportunity to write his own incredible four-game legend.
Kenta Maeda has allowed one earned run in his first three starts/19 innings. It has Owen Watson of Fangraphs already thinking of Fernando Valenzuela’s rookie season. Valenzuela began the 1981 season with five consecutive complete games. He allowed just one earned run in the 45 innings. Valenzuela allowed four earned runs in his first 72 innings.
As you see in Watson’s article, Maeda has quite a ways to go to reach El Toro, and there are dozens of pitchers above him in the category of pitchers with most consecutive games started with one earned run or less to start their career.
Here’s where Maeda differs from many of them. Maeda began his Major League career as a starter. Valenzuela pitched 10 games in relief in 1980.
No pitcher whose first four games were as a starter has allowed less than two earned runs with a minimum of 20 innings pitched.
Two pitchers whose first four games were as a starter allowed two earned runs in their first four Major League games/starts with at least 20 innings — Wayne Simpson (31) innings in 1970 and Al Worthington (29 2/3 innings) in 1953. Six have allowed three earned runs — the last being Drew Smyly in 2012, and five have allowed four — the last being James Paxton in 2013.
Of course, Maeda has tough challenge ahead of him at Coors Field. A pitcher with five starts or less in their career has turned in an effort of at least five innings and two runs or less 31 times. However, none of those pitchers have had Dodgers written across their chest
The top performance by a Dodger rookie starter at Coors, by ERA, was Nathan Eovaldi. On June 3, 2012, he allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings (3.18 ERA).