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…