Having only seen the first six innings last night, I must admit that Ken Gurnick had my reaction completely pegged, when I checked the box score this morning and saw Hong-Chih Kuo’s line:
From the box score, Kuo’s first appearance in five days looks like a
red flag — one inning, a two-run homer, a hit batter and wild pitch.
Kuo has been off for nearly a week with either a stiff neck, poor
mechanics or that worrisome left elbow.
While it’s only been 4.1 innings, that bumps his ERA up to 8.31 and his WHIP up to 2.077, which is, how do you say… not good. With Jonathan Broxton & Will Ohman seemingly the only healthy, reliable members of the bullpen, having an ineffective Kuo would be a major issue. But what really jumped out at me from the article is the fact that everyone seemed to be happy.
Nonetheless, his fastballs were clocked at 95 mph and he received endorsements from all the pertinent observers.
“He threw the ball really well,” said Torre, who has been so reluctant
to use Kuo that he’s called on Broxton for multiple-inning saves twice
in the past week. “That’s as good as he’s been this year. I know the
result wasn’t good, but that was his best fastball.”
Said Ausmus: “Kuo had great stuff, he really did. It kind of befuddles
you, their scoring two runs. If he pitches like that all year, we’ll be
in great shape in the eighth inning.”
I’d say the wild pitch and hit batter might have had something to do with it, but this raises an important question: is it true? I hate to rely on quotes from the manager and the catcher, because you know they’re trying to raise Kuo’s confidence. Fortunately, here in the 28th century we have some advanced technologies to find out. From the always amazing brooksbaseball.net:
|Pitch Type||Average Speed||Max Speed|
|FF (FourSeam Fastball)||94.55||95.4|
According to the article, Kuo’s worries included a stiff neck, bad mechanics, or his elbow. Well, I’m going to assume a guy with a bad elbow isn’t averaging 94.5 MPH on his fastball. What about his command?
Not too bad, especially for a guy who’s barely pitched all season. Even of the 6 pitches here that weren’t strikes, batters swung at 3 of them, although the wild pitch (green dot in lower left) is pretty glaring.
Okay, how about lousy mechanics?
Obviously, none of this matters without results, and Kuo’s results weren’t great last night. But the reviews from Torre & Ausmus combined with the hard math suggests that Kuo just maybe is back on the right path; if so, that’d go a hell of a long way towards shoring up the club’s biggest weakness so far, the bullpen.