Hong Chih Kuo has now started nine games in the major leagues if you count his appearance during the playoffs last year. In those nine starts he's thrown 51 and 1/3rd innings, compiled a 2.64 ERA allowed only one home run, struck out 9.53 per nine with a 3.38 K/BB ratio. If Kuo pitched like this for an entire season, he would be the best pitcher in baseball. Even with the dominance that Kuo has shown throughout is short career as a starter, last nights effort was quite possibly one of his best outings. While he wasn't blowing the ball by hitters like he usually does, his four strikeouts in seven innings is by far the lowest strike out per inning rate he's had in a start, for quite possibly the first time, Kuo was economical with his pitches. Kuo threw seven innings for only the second time in his career, and for Kuo just missed throwing twice as many strikes as balls for the third time. The man clearly has electric stuff, but it doesn't do us nearly as much good if it takes him 20 pitches to get out of any inning. While it's far too soon to say that Kuo has turned over a new leaf, he could be even more dangerous if he can find the strike zone as consistently as he did last night.
And of course, Kuo hit a mammoth home run, topped off with a Ryan Klesko bat flip to punctuate it. Predictably, this has angered people in some circles who believe that if anyone shows emotion on a baseball field might as well take a wizz on Abner Doubleday's grave. Personally, I don't care about a minor display of showmanship on the field, it keeps things interesting. Sure, you deserve getting drilled in the head if you make the "suck a fat one" gesture, but I'd like to think that adults hitting a ball around can handle someone tossing their bat after a home run. By the way, that home run was only the second hit Kuo has had since 2000.
Odds are that Kuo is not really the best pitcher in baseball, and is due to regress from what he's done so far. Still if he can stay healthy, Kuo should be a mainstay in the Dodgers rotation for years to come.