It’s Time to Be Worried About Hong-Chih Kuo, Right?

It’s relatively common knowledge that Hong-Chih Kuo has been held out with “elbow soreness” for a while, but I didn’t realize until today that it’s now been 9 days since his last appearance. Not only that, he was terrible in it, giving up 4 hits and the game’s only run in the September 14th 1-0 extra inning loss to Colorado. Before that, it had been 7 days since he pitched, and 6 days before that. It’s September 23rd, and he’s only pitched three times this month, worrying that club enough that he was given an MRI last week on his jigsaw looking elbow.

Today, there’s this from Baseball Prospectus injury guru Will Carroll:

Rob Moore
Is Kuo going to contribute any more this year, or are you getting the feeling that he’s done?

Will Carroll BP staff
Leaning to done.

You can’t overstate the impact Kuo has had on the Dodger bullpen this year. His ERA+ of 207 is second only to Joe Beimel, but unlike Beimel, Kuo is striking out more than a batter per inning (96 in 80 IP). More importantly, with a likely playoff berth looming, his domination of the Mets is legendary (I wrote about this in June, and it’s really worthwhile to go take a look at those stats again). He’s nearly as effective against the more likely matchup of Philadelphia and their lefty boppers of Howard and Utley, giving up just 2 hits over 8.1 scoreless innings. Losing a weapon like that could be crippling to what ought to be the Dodgers’ biggest strength in the playoffs, their bullpen.

On the other hand, that magic number is still stuck at 5. Let’s get into the playoffs first, shall we?

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg