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Comparing Kuroda's Starts

This is a comparison of Hiroki Kuroda's first start on opening day where the Dodgers won 4-1 and Kuroda's second start yesterday where the Dodgers lost 3-2. Here's the stats for the two starts:

Opening Day Yesterday
5.2 IP 5 IP
1 ER 2 ER
4 H 3 H
1 BB 3 BB
2 K 6 K


There really wasn't all that much difference in the two starts. Kuroda allowed five baserunners and one run on Opening Day and six baserunners and two runs yesterday. Although one improvement Kuroda made in his second start was striking out four more batters. Here are his pitch velocities and movements between the two starts (stats shown with Opening Data first, a slash, and then data from his second start):

Average Velocity (MPH Average Horizontal Movement (inches) Average Vertical Movement (inches) Number Thrown Strike %
Four Seam Fastball 92.0/91.7 -7.3/-8.5 9.2/9.4 45/51 80/55
Changeup 87.5/83.6 -5.4/-3.4 4.3/5.8 8/10 50/60
Slider 82.8/84.3 2.50/0.8 4.5/6.0 19/24 63/58
Two Seam Fastball 88.9/88.8 8.2/-7.5 5.1/5.9 4/1 50/0

His velocity was consistent enough, I wouldn't be worried about that. The difference in some of the off-speed pitches velocities can likely be attributed to a mistake classifying one of his pitches, since those are very small sample sizes. The biggest problem for Hiroki yesterday was throwing his fastball for a strike, he only managed to do that 55% of the time, compared to 80% of the time on Opening Day. Kuroda had exactly four swing and misses both starts despite the much higher strikeout total yesterday. Here are the pitch locations organized by results in Kuroda's Opening Day Start:


And here are the pitch locations organized by result in his start against the Diamondbacks yesterday:


As you can see he was throwing pitches in the strike zone much more often on Opening Day. When he missed he usually missed down, which helps to prevent extra base hits. On top of that, Kuroda got ten strikes on pitches out of the strike zone on Opening Day and only four yesterday. If you look back at the movement chart, you can partially see why. Kuroda's slider jsut wasn't moving as much yesterday, so he couldn't consistently fool hitters with it. Also, because he kept falling behind in counts, hitters were able to sit back and wait for a fastball.

As long as Hiroki Kuroda's control comes around, he will be just fine. His velocity was still there and his pitches were still moving just as much as usual except for his slider, which moved a bit less. But considering that his fastball was all over the place, he managed just fine.