November 24, 2014

Broxton Key to Kuroda’s Success

Dominating performance
Notes from Chavez Ravine: The Fox broadcasters surprisingly had an interesting tidbit on Hiroki Kuroda’s complete game shutout last night. Apparently Jonathan Broxton noticed something that seemed a bit off in Kuroda’s slider earlier in the week and offered up a tip on how he might want to adjust his delivery. The result? A four-hitter (along with 11 Ks) with several Cubs players saying that it was a slider that they hadn’t seen before. Great job Brox…love the teamwork!

Photo: Lori Shepler, Los Angeles Times

A Pitching Staff Worthy of the United Nations

It’s hard to believe that the Dodgers’ 5-2 victory last night over the Reds was the first time a Japanese pitcher (Saito) had saved a game for a Japanese starter (Kuroda) in the majors.  Ken Gurnick, of course, was all over the story.  Call me crazy, but that’s pretty cool! 

One thing that I don’t think Ken noticed were the pitchers of record in the May 17th game when the Dodgers beat the Angels.  As our pal Sebastian points out over at Back Alley Media, we can all get along!:

In today’s interleague MLB game, which saw the Dodgers beat the Angels, 6-3, the Korean guy (Chan-Ho Park) started and pitched 4 strong innings, followed up by the Taiwanese guy (Hong-Chih Kuo), who pitched another strong 4 and earned the win, with the Japanese guy (Takashi Saito) closing it out in the 9th. Yes we can, in fact, all get along!  

LA Dodgers IP / H / R / ER / BB / K / HR / Season ERA
C. Park 4.0 / 3 / 2 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 0 / 2.17
H. Kuo (W, 3-1) 4.0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4 / 0 / 2.40
T. Saito 1.0 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2.08

Kuroda’s Inconsistency Needs Attention

Hiroki Kuroda (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Lenny Ignelzi)
One by-product of the Dodgers current win streak is that the pitching crew is finally getting some help in the form of Dodger runs. I’ve said previously that Hiroki Kuroda’s record to-date this year didn’t really reflect his true talent or performance because the Dodger offense was practically non-existent. On top of that, the boys in blue were doing an excellent job sacrifing a small early lead late in the game with mediocre defense.

I was convinced that this latest outing against the Mets would help show what Kuroda could really provide as the Dodgers challenge Arizona for first place in the NL West. My convictions, as it turns out, was misguided as Kuroda’s control was lacking. It’s not an issue of capability, but of consistency. He really impressed me early on and I had chalked most of his peformance up to issues with the rest of the team. Defense lacking late in games, hitting almost nonexistent…you get the idea. This time, however, Kuroda couldn’t get it together from the start and dug as big a hole as I’ve seen from him all season.

In 3.1 innings, Kuroda threw 80 pitches. 8 hits, four runs (two earned), three walks, and only one strikeout. Even Torre commented on the consistency issue in a post-game comment to the L.A. Times: “His stuff is quality. When you look up there, his velocity is good, it’s just that he hasn’t had the command that we saw in the first game he pitched, and that we certainly know he’s capable of.”

In fairness to Hiroki, he didn’t get lots of defensive help in this outing and the bats weren’t delivering early on as they have in some other series (such as Florida), but this performance feels like a pitching issue more than anything else. Before getting yanked, he dug a 4-1 hole for the Dodgers and was lucky that things weren’t worse given that the Mets left 8 players on base during this time.

The big question is – how do the Dodgers get Kuroda’s pitching woes under control and is he a liability down the stretch if the Dodgers are still competing for first in the NL west? Comments welcome…

Kuroda and Duke Offer Interesting Matchup for Dodgers and Pirates

Hiroki Kuroda
OK, so I for one am itching to see Kuroda and Duke face off tonight for a few reasons:

1. Their stats are nearly identical – Both have pitched about 12 innings, both have a 2.13 ERA, both have given up three earned runs so far this season. Kuroda’s 1-1 record is partly based on some unearned runs, so I’ll let that difference slide for now.

2. Current Dodger players have struggled against Duke in the past - Jeff Kent is 1-11, Rafael Furcal is 2-10, Andruw Jones is 1-8, and poor Juan Pierre is 3-17 (glad to see he is nowhere in tonight’s lineup).

3. The Matt Kemp factor - OK, so he’s FINALLY in the lineup and not being brought up off the bench…very pleasing (especially given Pierre’s stats against Duke). Batting third should give him a chance to stretch his legs a bit here – but his historical performance against Duke has been spotty as well (although not nearly as bad as those already mentioned)

4. Kuroda isn’t facing the D-backs this time – The “all of nothing” approach to batting that the D-backs are using definitely hurt the Dodgers (and Kuroda). Pittsburgh, however, has only registered two games where they scored over four runs (the Florida game was the only impressive victory) and aren’t putting up impressive numbers from the batters box consistently. Kuroda has a decent shot to preserve any early lead that the Dodgers can muster here (remember Russel Martin and Kuroda vs. the Padres). Did I mention that Martin is hitting better against Duke than just about any Dodger player?