AJ Hinch had to meet with Kenta Maeda over frustration with early exit from Tigers game

Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Kenta Maeda was on the mound for the Tigers' first of three games against the Nationals on Tuesday, his first start since leaving a game after throwing just two pitches on June 5. His first two innings on Tuesday were clean; CJ Abrams led with a walk but Maeda didn't allow anyone else to reach until the third, when things started to get a little sticky.

Nick Senzel singled, Joey Gallo struck out, Jacob Young walked, CJ Abrams struck out, then Lane Thomas walked to load the bases. Although Maeda's performance has been inconsistent throughout the season, walks haven't really been a problem for him, and they certainly haven't been so concentrated in a single inning that they led to a problem so entirely of his own making.

After a seven-pitch battle and 3-2 count, Jesse Winker walked to score Senzel and leave the bases loaded. It took six more pitches (and some nice zone-painting) for Maeda to get out of the inning with a strikeout of Eddie Rosario. The Nats went down in order in the fourth, but Beau Brieske was the pitcher on the mound to start the fifth.

Maeda was reportedly surprised by the pitching change, which led AJ Hinch to pull him into a meeting to explain the pull.

AJ Hinch had a sit-down with Kenta Maeda after he was pulled just four innings into latest Tigers start

Hinch told reporters that he explained to Maeda that "starters aren't entitled to a certain number of pitches or innings per game," which does hint to some discontent from Maeda and a certain dissatifaction from Hinch about his performance. Despite only allowing the one run, the pull was sort of understandable; Maeda had thrown 77 pitches by the time Hinch decided he was done, and he clearly wasn't locating his pitches well enough for Hinch to believe that walks wouldn't be a problem in later innings.

He also said, "Pitchers aren't allocated any number of pitches. I don't think every pitcher needs to know what exactly they have in store for that game," which also points to a miscommunication or at least a disconnect about what kind of workload Maeda was expected to take on.

The Nats did go on to score two more runs off of Brieske in the fifth and score two more in later innings that would win them the game, but pulling Maeda, especially with his recent history of injury, was an understandable managerial choice even if Maeda didn't like it.