Hong-Chih Kuo Got Kidnapped by Pirates

Presented without further comment, via Dylan Hernandez:

Mattingly said he can’t say what’s wrong with Kuo until the #Dodgers get league approval.

Okay, that’s a lie, because there’s definitely more comment. That’s a follow-up to an earlier tweet in which Hernandez noted that Kuo had been sent to the DL, with Scott Elbert recalled. Hernandez then followed with this doozy:

Are you expecting Kuo to return this year? Mattingly: “it’s hard for me to answer that.”

This could be any one of a billion things, and the way this season has gone, not a single one of them would surprise me. As I joked on Twitter, perhaps he was eaten by bears. (My favorite line was from one follower who noted, “Maybe his treatment is going to cost more than $5k, thus need for approval.”) Maybe he’s captured by space aliens. Maybe he got arrested for trying to hold up a bank. Maybe he went to Venezuela to find Ronald Belisario. Would anything at all, at this point, shock you? Let’s hear your best suggestions in the comments.

Of course, far more likely it’s something that’s immensely sad or depressing, especially for a guy who’s fought through as much as he has. Let’s hope it’s not that – but we’ll have to wait and see.

Today’s Game as a Microcosm of the Season


Contributions from the “big three”, nothing at all from the rest of the lineup, a decent starting pitching performance, and issues in the bullpen? Yeah, we’ve got that, just like every other day.

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Jamey Carroll, the aforementioned “big three”, all got hits, going 4-10 between then with Ethier also reaching on a walk.

As usual, just about no one else did, as the rest of the lineup went 1-19 with just a 9th inning Aaron Miles single and a Tony Gwynn walk. Remember, that’s against Dustin Moseley, whose sparkling 1.99 ERA entering the game belies the fact that he’d struck out just ten men in 31.2 innings, hence the 4.05 xFIP. Moseley, of course, struck out six Dodgers in seven innings.

That’s how you spoil a perfectly acceptable six inning, three run outing from your fifth starter, with Jon Garland pitching five scoreless around a difficult second inning. Though Blake Hawksworth was solid in contributing two scoreless innings, much more disturbing was Hong-Chih Kuo‘s seemingly premature return from the disabled list.

Kuo threw 25 pitches, but just 14 for strikes while allowing four men to reach in a 9th inning he couldn’t complete. His velocity was in the low 90s, but his control was all over the place; he was finally yanked after hitting Will Venable with a big, looping curveball, one of several breaking pitches he had no command of. Mike MacDougal followed by allowing a run to score on a sacrifice fly, and two more on a Chase Headley double. As Tony Jackson tweeted, if you’re really keeping Lance Cormier around to be a mop up guy, you’d think that’s when he’d make an appearance, especially not having pitched in nine days. Cormier eventually came in as the third pitcher of the inning after MacDougal ran the score to 7-0.

With the loss, the Dodgers fall back to one game under .500.

Dodgers Swap Out Jansen for Kuo

Dylan Hernandez with some unexpected news:

The #Dodgers have reinstated LHP Hong-Chih Kuo and optioned RHP Kenley Jansen to Triple-A Albuquerque.

It’s great to have Kuo back, of course, assuming that he’s healthy and ready to go, which remains to be seen. It’s the demotion of Jansen that’s somewhat confusing. Obviously, his ERA of 7.43 is pretty ugly, though 9 of the 11 earned runs he’s allowed came in just two games – one of which was his season debut.

Since allowing four earned runs to the Giants on April 2, Jansen’s pitched in 12.1 innings over 10 games. In that time, he’s struck out 20 against 6 walks, allowing a line of .196/.288/.391. He did have a meltdown on April 19 against the Braves, giving up five earned runs in the 9th inning of a game that the Dodgers were already losing, but has been excellent in the three games since: 9 strikeouts and 2 walks in 4.2 innings, without a hit.

Yet Lance Cormier, who’s pitched just once in the last two weeks, and only once has made it through an appearance without giving up a run, remains. I assume that this falls under Ned Colletti’s usual m.o. of keeping control over as many players as possible, and I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world for Jansen to get more experience in a lower-pressure environment, but with the bullpen struggling as much as it has been, it certainly seems like an odd choice to send down the guy who’s striking out 14.85 men per nine innings. That’s the highest rate of anyone in baseball this year with at least 13 innings pitched, and it’s the 8th best seasonal rate in major league history (obviously, in a tiny sample size).

Jansen will be back soon, and Cormier, most likely, won’t be. So this isn’t a fatal, crushing mistake. It’s just an unexpected choice to look at your bullpen full of guys who don’t miss bats – like Matt Guerrier, Cormier, and lately Jonathan Broxton – and send down the one guy who really does.

Fun News For Your Morning Coffee (Updated)

Wake up, Angelinos. It’s 7:24am, half of you probably aren’t even out of bed yet, and already we’re getting hit after hit after hit.

Let’s start with Casey Blake, one-third of the world famous “75% of our infield is injured and the other one is James Loney!” infield. Dylan Hernandez warns us not to expect him back any time soon:

Casey Blake is probably DL-bound. Elbow is infected. Fever spiked last night, forced him to go to a hospital.

Who had “three separate injuries and two DL stints in the first month” in the “Blake is too old” pool? Come claim your prize. For the record, while we have no real details on Blake’s infection, it does remind me of Xavier Paul getting a staph infection in his knee in 2009, a concern that cost him about half the season. Again, there’s absolutely nothing that says this is the same thing or in any way related; just something to keep in mind.

(Update: Hernandez now reporting Blake could be out for 4 weeks. But that’s okay, Russ Mitchell – hitting .214 in ABQ – would come save us.)

But as if the realization that the left side of the Dodger infield is never going to be healthy at the same time, thus dooming us to an enternity of Aaron Miles, isn’t bad enough, there’s also the news that the help you were hoping for in the bullpen this weekend might not be coming.

Dodgers.com:

Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo‘s anticipated Friday return from the disabled list is in doubt after he retired only one of five batters in a Class A rehab assignment Tuesday night.

Kuo, disabled two weeks ago with a sore back that led to a relapse of the yips, was pitching on back-to-back nights for the first time this year after having allowed a run in one inning Monday night. In Tuesday night’s game, he was charged with two runs on four hits with one strikeout.

Oh, and Jerry Sands is also out of today’s lineup, so Tony Gwynn joins Miles, Ivan DeJesus, James Loney, and Rod Barajas in the “guys who aren’t Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, or Jamey Carroll” portion of the order.

A Day’s News in Seventeen Syllables

Kuo out with sore back
Troncoso up from minors
Least it’s not Kuo’s arm

Bullpen all righties
So why not get Scott Elbert?
Too much Cormier

Uribe at short
But Miles in, not Carroll
This could be ugly

Four straight losses now
And five losses in six games
Please save us Kershaw

Update: let’s add one more based on the latest news…

FOX gives McCourt loan
Thirty mil to meet payroll
Damn! So close, so close

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axu9gLaT8_8]