Los Angeles Dodgers rookie pitcher Kenta Maeda held the Colorado Rockies scoreless for 6 1/3 innings as he improved to 3-0 in his brief MLB career. The Rockies failed to get a hit until there was one out in the sixth inning.
Maeda has a 0.36 ERA through four career starts, allowing a total of one earned run in 25 1/3 innings this season.
Putting Maeda's start in context
Maeda's one run allowed is the fewest by any pitcher through four career games, all starts, since the mound was moved to its current distance (60 feet, 6 inches) in 1893, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only three other pitchers in that span have allowed one combined run in their first four career starts, including former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
Maeda has pitched at least six innings in all four starts. He's the fifth pitcher in the live-ball era (since 1920) to begin his career with four straight games of at least six innings and one run or fewer allowed. Three of those occurrences have been in the past four seasons, including Cody Anderson last year and Jarred Cosart in 2013. The only longer streak to begin a career in that span belonged to Ernie Wingard, who had five straight such starts in 1924 for the St. Louis Browns.
How is he doing it?
Maeda has mixed up his arsenal this season, having thrown at least 44 fastballs, changeups, curveballs and sliders this season. His 157 breaking balls this season are the seventh most in baseball this season.
The breaking balls have set up his fastball, which has been dominant this season. Opposing batters are collectively 1-for-25 against his fastball this season. The .040 batting average is the lowest by any starting pitcher's fastball this season.
His slider has also been extremely effective this season, as he's generated 25 swings-and-misses with the pitch this season. Only three pitchers have more: Chris Young (33) Chris Archer (30) and Michael Pineda (28).
Living outside the strike zone
For as dominant as Maeda has been this season, he has thrown 41.5 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, fourth lowest among 98 qualified starters. And 62.3 percent of those pitches have missed outside, which is the highest percentage among qualified starters. His fastball is in the strike zone 41.0 percent of the time, lowest among qualified starters.
Despite the volume of pitches outside the strike zone, Maeda has walked five batters in four starts, and none with his fastball. His 1.78 walks per nine innings is nearly a full walk per game better than the league average by qualified starters.
He has been able to get away with not throwing strikes due to his high chase percentage. He has gotten opposing hitters to chase on 36.4 percent of pitches outside the zone. That is the third-best rate in baseball, only behind Noah Syndergaard and Zack Greinke.