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Dodgers Bringing The Band Back Together: Hiroki Kuroda Close To One-Year Deal

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Say what you want about the 2011 Dodgers, but it appears they will have exceptional starting pitching. The Dodgers, according to several published reports, are close to re-signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal, worth $12 million. Bringing Kuroda back would give the Dodgers a formidable front four of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Kuroda, and Ted Lilly.

From the time the Dodgers acquired Lilly on July 31, they had a strong starting four:

2010 Dodgers Big Four, Since August 1
Starter
GS
QS
W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
K
ERA
FIP
WHIP
Kershaw
11
9
3-5
73.2
56
25
23
25
70
2.81
2.98
1.100
Kuroda
11
8
3-4
74.0
56
29
26
15
60
3.16
2.96
0.959
Billingsley
11
8
3-6
70.1
57
27
25
27
74
3.20
2.47
1.194
Lilly
12
10
7-4
76.2
61
30
30
15
77
3.52
3.98
0.991
Totals
45
35
16-19
294.2
230
111
104
82
281
3.18
3.11
1.059

However, the club was just 21-24 in these games, because their offense didn't come through. In those 45 games, the Dodgers averaged 3.18 runs per game, and scored two runs or less in 19 of the 45 games.

Kuroda, who turns 36 on February 10, had the best season of his three-year major league career in 2010. He was 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA in a career-high 196 1/3 innings. He has increased his strikeout rate each year in the majors:

Hiroki Kuroda's Improving Strikeout Rate
Year K BF K%
2008 116 776 14.9%
2009 87 485 17.9%
2010 159 810 19.6%

Kuroda made $14.1 million in 2010 in the last year of a three-year contract, $13 million in salary and $1.1 million in a deferred signing bonus. Signing Kuroda would give the Dodgers 35 players on the 40-man roster.

Now, about that offense...