If there is one person on the Dodgers who might be happy to see the calendar change from June to July, it's Hiroki Kuroda. The right-hander had a rough time last month. Despite pitching relatively well in his five starts (2.12 ERA, 3.65 FIP, and 3.46 xFIP; his best month of the season in all three categories), Kuroda never won. The Dodgers scored a total of seven runs in his five starts, and Kuroda was saddled with an 0-4 record during June.
Kuroda starts tonight for the Dodgers as they open a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels. With just 2.9 runs per start, Kuroda ranks 67th among 71 qualified pitchers in run support in the National League. He will look to snap a dubious streak tonight, as only two Dodgers since 1919 have had more consecutive starts allowing two earned runs without picking up a win.
|Dodgers Consecutive Starts With 2 Or Fewer Earned Runs Allowed & No Wins|
|Since 1919; Source: Baseball-Reference.com|
However, tough luck has been nothing new to Kuroda. He has been a solid rotation fixture since arriving from Japan before the 2008 season, putting up an ERA, FIP, and xFIP in the threes every season. However, Kuroda has had a losing record in three of his four seasons, and has the owner of a 33-39 career record to go with his 3.52 MLB ERA.
His adjusted ERA (ERA+) is 111 in his career. There have been 31 pitchers in baseball since the beginning of 2008 to put up a 110 ERA+ or higher in at least 500 innings, and Kuroda is the only won with a losing record. There are 37 starting pitchers with at least 10 FanGraphs WAR during that span, including Kuroda and his 11.1 Wins Above Replacement. Of those 37 pitchers, only Kuroda and Javier Vasquez (41-44) have losing records.
Being on a bad team doesn't help Kuroda's win totals, nor is it new to Kuroda. In Kuroda's 11 seasons in Japan, the Hiroshima Carp had 10 losing seasons, with their best record a pedestrian 68-65 mark in 2001. "Every time I go out there, I go out there to win, but even if I can't get the win, if the team wins I get my spirits up," Kuroda said, through interpreter Kenji Namura after Saturday's loss to the Angels. "It's unfortunate these types of games are continuing when I pitch, but I just hope for the best each time out."
Perhaps Kuroda's luck can change starting tonight in Anaheim.