Hong-Chih Kuo missed time in 2009 with the dreaded “yips” and was on the disabled list earlier this season with “anxiety issues,” both of which make his inability to throw strikes last night doubly worrisome for the Dodgers.
When healthy and on top of his game Kuo is among the elite, most dominating relievers in baseball, but yesterday he threw just five of 17 pitches for strikes, walked two of the four batters he faced, uncorked a wild pitch, and coughed up three runs while recording one out.
However, when asked by Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times if he was concerned about the outing, Kuo replied:
I walked a couple guys, I feel good. I just didn’t have command today. I feel bad I didn’t get guys out, but I go out there and I feel good.
I might be inclined to agree with Kuo, except his lack of command wasn’t just a one-game thing. Combined during his last four appearances Kuo has walked seven of 15 batters while giving up six runs and recording five total outs. He also has 15 walks in 16 innings overall this season after walking just 18 batters in 60 innings last year. Either he’s hurt or something simply isn’t right.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.