Kenta Maeda, who starts Game 3 of the Dodgers-Nationals NLDS on Monday at Dodger Stadium (1 p.m., MLB Network), would have the most excellent shot at winning the NL’s Rookie of the Year award if not for teammate Corey Seager. Consider that when he signed the rather modest eight-year, $25 million deal last January, he made different incentive marks by making 32 starts, going 175 innings, striking out 179 and winning 16 — all team leading — with a 3.48 ERA., benefiting from a schedule designed to benefit longer layoffs for him. His feats so far, in fact, are on par or better as a rookie than the three former star Japanese starting pitchers that the Dodgers have ever had.
As a 26-year-old in 1995, Hideo Nomo was 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts, leading the league with three shutouts and 236 strikeouts when he was the NL Rookie of the Year and fourth in the Cy Young vote. But in two career postseason starts (’95 and ’96), he lost them both in rough outings.
Kaz Ishii, at age 28 in 2002, was 14-10 in 28 starts but never appeared in the playoffs.
In 2008, 33-year-old Hiroki Kuroda may not have had a sparkling record — 9-10 — but with a 3.37 ERA in 31 starts, he was called upon to start in the NLDS against the Cubs, and the NLCS against the Phillies, and registered a win in both those games with solid six-inning performances.
If the Dodgers advance by winning Game 4 (Dodger Stadium, Tuesday at 2 p.m., FS1) or Game 5 (Nationals Park, Thursday at 2 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., FS1), then the NL Championship Series against either Chicago or San Francisco starts Saturday and Sunday at the home park of the team with the higher seeding.
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