Hiroki Kuroda has struggled over his last seven starts, with a 2-4 record and a 5.49 ERA. However, I believe most of that struggling has been superficial. Kuroda has still had excellent control, walking 1.32 batters per nine innings over that span, and his FIP is 4.19. Opposing batters are hitting .269/.294/.444, perhaps a bit more slugging than one would like, but still relatively solid overall. One thing to be concerned about is that Kuroda has struck out only four batters total over his last three starts. As David Ely of MLB.com reported, it might be nothing more than a mechanical flaw:
When at his best, he gets ahead in counts and makes defensive hitters chase splitters in the dirt, but it hasn't been happening a lot lately. Manager Joe Torre believes Kuroda overthrows, causing a mechanical flaw that results in pulling his pitches as they are delivered.
Dutchman Rick VandenHurk is starting for the Marlins, making just his second start of the season after being recalled from New Orleans on Monday. Perhaps you've heard of the "Three True Outcomes." They are a walk, strikeout, or home run, the three outcomes that take the defense out of the equation and depend entirely on the pitcher/batter matchup. Adam Dunn or Jack Cust are examples of 3TO players, but if there was ever an example of a three true outcomes pitcher, Rick VandenHurk is it.
In his brief career, all of 101.2 innings, VandenHurk has allowed 5.31 walks, 1.59 home runs, and has struck out 9.38 batters per nine innings. An astonishing 38.57% of plate appearances against VandenHurk end in one of the three true outcomes. Among starting pitchers, only Rich Harden has had a higher such percentage from 2007-2009, at 41.32%. The MLB three true outcome percentage from 2007-2009 is 28.73%.
For the record, I believe Rick VandenHurk would perform much better if he went by his given first name, Henricus.
Craig over at Fish Stripes takes a look at the types of pitches VandenHurk threw in his last start, and came to this amusing conclusion:
The interesting thing is when I looked on fangraphs, they had no idea what he was throwing. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. Neither Pitch F/X nor fangraphs has any clue as to what Nolasco is throwing when he is throwing those hard breaking pitches of his. And believe me if the super duper technology can't identify it on the way to the plate, the hitter sure can't in less than half of a second.
The Dodger outfield starters are on fire in July:
Get your guesses in for today's "Clogging The Bases" here.
Game Time: 7:10pm
TV: Prime Ticket