Padres seek to rebound from no-hitter in game 2 of Mexico Series

Kenta Maeda has a tough act to follow.

Maeda starts against the Padres Saturday night as the two Southern California National League rivals play the middle game of their three-game series in Monterrey, Mexico.

The 30-year-old right-hander will be pitching for the Dodgers a night after Walker Buehler and relievers Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore pitched the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history. Buehler went six innings and the reliever each worked one, combining for 13 strikeouts and five walks for the 24th no-hitter pitched in Dodgers history.

Now it is Maeda’s turn.

And while the Padres have been struggling on offense, Maeda hasn’t exactly been lights on the mound for the Dodgers. Maeda is 2-2 this season with a 3.76 ERA in six games (five starts). He has allowed 14 runs (11 earned) on 29 hits and 10 walks with 34 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

But he does have a win against the Padres, even though he yielded four runs on eight hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts back on April 18 at Petco Park. The Dodgers won that game 13-4 and are 4-0 against the Padres this season while out-scoring the Padres 34-10.

During his career, Maeda has had less success against the Padres than other teams he’s faced. Overall, Maeda has a 31-19 record with a 3.80 ERA and a .237 opponents’ batting average since coming to the United States in 2016.

But against the Padres, Maeda is 4-3 with a 4.72 ERA and a .253 opponents’ batting average in 10 games (nine starts). He does have 59 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings against the Padres with a 1.175 WHIP.

Maeda could have one thing working for him Saturday afternoon in Mexico — that being Padres starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell.

Mitchell has been one of the Padres’ biggest disappointments in a disappointing start (11-22) to the season.

Last Dec. 12, the Padres completed an unusual deal with the Yankees to acquire Mitchell for their rotation. To get Mitchell, the Padres had to take on third baseman Chase Headley and his $13 million contract. But the Padres no only projected Mitchell to be a starter — they projected him to be one of the top three starters in the rotation.

After six starts, however, Mitchell is 0-3 with a 6.07 ERA — and the Padres are 1-5 in the 26-year-old right-hander’s starts.

In his most recent start, Mitchell allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Mets. After that outing, Padres manager Andy Green used much the same “performance-driven sport” comments that he used to describe Luis Perdomo‘s outings before the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A El Paso.

Mitchell is out of options, which would likely make demotion impossible. But he has pitched out of the bullpen before. And Perdomo just allowed one run on three hits and two walks in a complete-game victory Friday night.

Mitchell must do better to keep his spot in the rotation. He has worked only 30 2/3 innings in his five starts. In those 30 2/3 innings, he has given up 33 hits and 23 walks and four home runs — including one to Matt Kemp in his start against the Dodgers.