Kuroda & Kuo Add Up To Zero

Proof positive, I suppose, that you can shut down the Mets with your eyes closed.

You could argue that Hiroki Kuroda did his best to outshine Chad Billingsley‘s effort from Wednesday night. You could also argue that the Mets just came off of being embarrassed in Arizona, so they were hardly a worthy opponent. Kuroda, powered by a homer and a double from Matt Kemp, pitched at least eight shutout innings for the fourth time in his career, helping the Dodgers overcome another generally ineffective night from the offense.

I would have liked to have seen Kuroda start the 9th; while he was up to 112 pitches, he’d been breezing through and had spent just 11 pitches in the 8th. But shouldn’t pitch counts not be a concern anyway for Kuroda? He’s not a young arm coming up to be protected, like Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw; he’s a veteran used to high pitch counts, and he even survived the insane decision to let him come back in after that nearly three-hour rain delay in Cincinnati. Besides, his contract is up and it’s not like there’s any guarantee he’s coming back, so you push him as hard as you need to right now. Even hitting for him in the 8th didn’t add any value; Kuroda could have grounded weakly up the middle and then not run hard to first base just as well as Garret Anderson did.

In addition, the Mets started the 9th with two righties before lefty Ike Davis, and with Jonathan Broxton unavailable, Hong-Chih Kuo was the closer tonight. Obviously, Kuo has no problems with either side of the plate, but it does stand to reason that Kuroda could have faced the righties unless he got in trouble. It’s also absolutely terrifying that Kuo has been allowed to either pitch or warm three consecutive nights, and I’m not lying when I say I’m terrified for him each time he’s out there now. Remember when he wasn’t allowed to do that for even two nights in a row? Now he’s up to three, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say, there’s just no way that can end well. Now, let the legions of “Kuo should replace Broxton!” crazies come out.

It was the second time this season the Dodgers tossed back-to-back shutouts, following the dual 1-0 extra inning wins against Arizona to start June. Had Kuroda been able to complete the shutout, it would have been the first back-to-back complete game shutouts for the Dodgers since Pedro Astacio and Tom Candiotti in 1995, each of which came against the Mets.

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Dylan Hernandez lets us know that James McDonald is being sent to the bullpen after just one start, with Carlos Monasterios getting the nod on Saturday, which is a good idea because… hell, I have absolutely no idea. I said the other day that I prefer McDonald in the bullpen anyway, but McDonald wasn’t exactly terrible in his one start, and his five strikeouts were two more than Monasterios has been able to get in any appearance, start or relief, the entire season. Even if you don’t want McDonald, John Ely allowed three runs in seven innings in his first start for ABQ, and starting him on Saturday would have only put him at one extra day of rest off his usual schedule. The idea that Monasterios is a better choice to start than either McDonald or Ely… well, I just can’t get behind it.

At the very least, it’s the last time we’ll have to see him start, since we all know that by this time next week, the Dodgers will have traded Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, & Kenley Jansen for Paul Maholm & Octavio Dotel.

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I didn’t mention the other day that Jack Taschner had been recalled from ABQ, but if I had, I would have laughed at it. Taschner was so bad that he was DFA’d by the Pirates, of all teams, in June. The fun part is, not only was he not good this year, he’s never been any good (career 4.47 FIP and 4.82 BB/9), his velocity has dropped four years in a row (down to 88.8 MPH this year), and he wasn’t even any good in AAA after signing with the Dodgers (four home runs allowed in ten innings.) Yet he’s somehow a better choice than Kenley Jansen, or if you must have a lefty, Juan Perez (9.3 K/9, 3.19 ERA for the Isotopes)?

Anyway, his simple recall isn’t what set me off here, it’s this bit of news, also from  Hernandez:

Tashner taking over as lefty specialist

That’s without throwing a pitch for the club, by the way. But not only is a guy who cut dumped by Pittsburgh being given an important role, what’s even funnier is that he’s completely unqualified for it. Despite being a lefty, Taschner has no discernible platoon split. For his career, he’s been hit by righties at a .796 clip, and lefties at .778. That comes out to a .292/.361/.416 line, and that’s just not all that good.

Now you might say, “but MSTI, George Sherrill has been a train wreck, and Hong-Chih Kuo isn’t really a lefty specialist. The team’s hand has been forced.” To which I say, has it?

Sherrill’s line against righty hitters is almost unfathomably bad – .453/.531/.774. There’s just nothing that’s going to make that okay. However, for all his troubles, he’s still been pretty effective against lefties, holding them to .200/.327/.350. I’m not suggesting I feel all that comfortable with him in a big spot, but even in his disastrous season, that’s still quite better than Taschner’s done. As I said weeks ago, if he’s allowed to only face lefties, he just may be able to help you.

Besides, as Steve Dilbeck notes, Sherrill has been demoted to garbage time. That means that he’s likely to have to face more righties than otherwise, since you’re not playing matchups as much with big leads or deficits. And that’s going to help him get turned around how, exactly?

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Finally: I haven’t been touching on every single trade rumor, because 99% of them are stupid or painful, and because you can connect the dots to just about every player in the bigs anyway. (Besides, I like to do that in the offseason, when there’s not games to distract me every night.) Still, this note from AOL Fanhouse’s Ed Price really caught my eye:

#Rays said to be shopping BJ Upton. With Manny out, #Dodgers could use a bat, and Tampa has some interest in RHP James McDonald.

Let’s be clear and say that there’s no way this is going to happen; the Rays need a bat too, and if they trade Upton it’s going to be for someone who can help them right now like Jayson Werth. The Dodgers don’t have anyone like that (no, Manny doesn’t count), and since the Rays can’t seem to make room for Jeremy Hellickson, it’s unlikely that McDonald is going to be a huge draw. Still, just the thought of Upton patrolling center between Ethier and Kemp next year…

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  2. [...] his season equally between the pen and the rotation, starting seven games while relieving in eight. I didn’t always understand why: Dylan Hernandez lets us know that James McDonald is being sent to the bullpen after just one [...]

  3. [...] July 23: It’s also absolutely terrifying that Kuo has been allowed to either pitch or warm three consecutive nights, and I’m not lying when I say I’m terrified for him each time he’s out there now. Remember when he wasn’t allowed to do that for even two nights in a row? Now he’s up to three, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say, there’s just no way that can end well. [...]

  4. [...] the month with Carlos Monasterios returning to the rotation. When I noted his new role on July 23, I made this chilling-in-retrospect statement: At the very least, it’s the last time we’ll have to see him start, since we all know that by [...]