Feeling pressure, Maeda hurls scoreless start

With Darvish on board, righty knows he has to perform to stay in rotation

Feeling pressure, Maeda hurls scoreless start

ATLANTA -- The Dodgers continued to showcase their starting-rotation depth as Kenta Maeda shut down the Braves in Tuesday night's 3-2 victory at SunTrust Park.

Maeda held the Braves to just two hits across seven scoreless innings. He struck out six batters and credited improved tempo as the reason for his success.

"I think it is really focusing on my style," Maeda said through an interpreter. "That included throwing the cutter and mixing up my pitches throughout the game."

Maeda focused primarily on his two-seam fastball and his slider against the Braves. According to Statcast™, he reached a max velocity of 93.8 mph with the fastball and collected four swinging strikes.

He used the fastball to counter his slider in attacking Braves hitters. He focused on the lower-third of the strike zone, and it effectively kept the Braves' hitters off-balance.

Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor said it was one of the best performances that he had seen out of Maeda.

"It was really good to see that from Kenta," Taylor said. "He was commanding all of his pitches, and that slider was really working for him. He was working both sides of the plate, and that is the Kenta that we all saw last year and I am really happy for him."

Maeda has won his past four starts while allowing only three earned runs over that span.

With the acquisition of ace righty Yu Darvish, Maeda acknowledged that he feels some pressure to perform in order to stay in the starting rotation. He knows that having Darvish around will help him continue to work harder as the season continues.

"Yes, I do feel the pressure, and that is the reality right now as we have a lot of good pitchers who are producing," Maeda said. "Darvish is someone that I admire very much and one of the top starting pitchers in Japan and here obviously."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before Tuesday's game that Darvish will pitch Friday's game at Citi Field against the Mets. The plan right now is to keep Maeda in the rotation as the Dodgers deal with injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Brandon McCarthy.

Roberts was pleased with the Maeda's performance and hopes that he can keep it going for the rest of the season.

"Kenta and all of our guys are trying to go out there and perform to their best each night," Roberts said. "My eyes tell me that tonight he was very aggressive and very good."

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.