In 2009 Hiroki Kuroda proved several things.
- Has one hell of a hard head.
- When healthy the man can pitch.
- Pitchers who last name start with "KU" don't pitch complete seasons
- When a 34 year old mainstay of the rotation gets crushed by the Phillies in the playoffs it does not appear to be a big deal. When a 24 year gets crushed by the Phillies his manhood is questioned.
When Ned gets bashed for his misbegotten free agent signings, it is always interesting how the naysayers conveniently forget to mention the good ones like Hiroki Kuroda.
Lost in all the hoopla over the shot to the bean, the nightmare in Philly, and missing 51 games with an oblique problem was the fact that when Kuroda did pitch, he was the best pitcher in the rotation based on base peripherals, and the latest iterations of ERA such as xERA. or xFIP.
Don't believe me? Check out the xFIP at Fangraphs.
Don't believe me? Check out the BPV rating by Baseball HQ.
Pitching BPV: ((Dominance Rate - 5.0) x 18) + ((4.0 - Walk rate) x 27) + (Ground ball rate as whole number - 40)This formula combines the individual raw skills of dominance, control and the ability to keep the ball on the ground, all characteristics that are unaffected by most external team factors. In tandem with a pitcher's strand rate, it provides a complete picture of the elements that contribute to a pitcher's ERA, and therefore serves as an accurate tool to project likely changes in ERA. BENCHMARKS: A BPV of 50 is the minimum level required for long-term success. The elite of the bullpen aces will have BPV's in excess of 100 and it is rare for these stoppers to enjoy long term success with consistent levels under 75.
In 2009 Kuroda's BPV was 97 because of his ability to induce ground balls at a 50% clip, along with the control that made batters earn their way to 1st base. Both Kershaw (63) and Billingsley (64) lagged far behind Kuroda because of their control issues.
The scouting report on Kuroda shows he's strictly a three pitch pitcher. A fastball that sits at 92 (65%), a slider at 84MPH (25%), and finally his split fingered fast ball 87MPH(9.5%). No change up or curve ball for Kuroda. Again Fangraphs has this wealth of information.
Kuroda does not get much play but a healthy Kuroda gives the Dodgers the potential for the best three starters in the NL and is a big reason why they will be expected to win an unprecedented 3rd straight Division title. The question is, can Kuroda give us at least 180 innings?