Kenta Maeda's impressive career milestone overshadowed by awful start for Tigers

Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Guardians v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Kenta Maeda, the Tigers' most senior starting pitcher, has been the worst aspect about the rotation this season.

Right from the start, his two-year, $24 million deal was looking like yet another awful deal that the Detroit Tigers were just going to have to swallow, and through 16 starts there are no signs of an upward turn. He's made only two quality outings and carries an 8.88 ERA over his last seven games, including his one on Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians.

Maeda only went 2 2/3 innings that evening, but he gave up seven hits and six runs, including two bombs in the top of the first to Angel Martínez and Josh Naylor. To their credit, the Tigers lineup fought back valiantly and tied things up in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a pair of homers for Gio Urshela, who was slumping hard through June, and Justyn-Henry Malloy. Still, the Guardians came out on top in extras.

It's hard to sunny-side anything about Maeda's performance for the Tigers this season, but he did happen to reach a pretty impressive career milestone amidst all of the shelling. He struck out Austin Hedges in the top of the second for his 1,000th career strikeout, making him the third Japanese pitcher to do it in MLB.

Kenta Maeda reaches 1,000 career strikeouts in the middle of another awful start for Tigers

Maeda just barely hobbled over that 1,000 mark with just one more strikeout of Jhonkensy Noel before he was pulled in the third. It was only his 50th strikeout with the Tigers, so the bulk of that 1,000 came from 641 over four years with the Dodgers and 310 over three years with the Twins. The way things are going, there's no realistic way Maeda will be able to reach equivalent heights in two years in Detroit; they'll be lucky if they can get 150 strikeouts from him by the time his contract is up.

He also probably won't be able to reach the 1,233 strikeouts he recorded across eight years in NPB, when he was undoubtedly at his most dominant. Gone is that pitcher who won the Japanese Triple Crown in 2010 and led Japanese baseball in ERA in 2010, 2012, and 2013.

Congrats to Kenta Maeda, though — 1,000 strikeouts is still a notable feat. It's just hard to ask Tigers fans to celebrate it too much when 11 out of his 16 starts have resulted in a loss for Detroit.

feed