Hong-Chih Kuo returns to DL with psychological issue

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Dodgers setup man Hong-Chih Kuo, who had struggled since returning from a back strain on May 1, was placed back on the disabled list with what Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez has been told is a physcological issue.

Hernandez says Kuo is experiencing a recurrance of the yips, which first struck back in 2009.

Kuo was supposed to be the fallback for the Dodgers in the closer’s role if Jonathan Broxton failed to turn it around this year, but he had an 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings over nine appearances.

In his last outing Monday, he allowed doubles to the only two hitters he faced before being pulled.

With his velocity down, Kuo showed no signs of being ready to occupy a key role in the Dodger pen. As a result, Vicente Padilla has taken over as the team’s closer in place of the injured Broxton.

Replacing Kuo will be another talented lefty with control issues in Scott Elbert. The former first-round pick had a 5.02 ERA and a 16/9 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.