UPDATE: With the Dodgers off the table, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com was told by a source that Hiroki Kuroda is now “considering all options,” including offers from major-league teams regardless of location as well an offer to return home to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp. For what it’s worth, the expectation is that he could earn more with a major-league club than in Japan.
11:40 AM: The Dodgers signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a two-year, $10 million contract yesterday, which effectively signified as a goodbye to Hiroki Kuroda. Many believe that the veteran right-hander would rather go back to Japan than pitch for another team in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped other MLB teams from expressing interest.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies “have quietly pursued” Kuroda and believe they may have a decent chance of signing him based on “preliminary conversations.” However, it’s not clear whether they have had any direct talks with Kuroda’s agent.
Kuroda, who turns 37 in February, lost 16 games for a lousy Dodgers team this season, but posted a 3.07 ERA and 161/49 K/BB ratio over 202 innings. He has a 3.45 ERA since coming over to the United States in 2008, which is better than fellow National League hurlers Roy Oswalt, Yovani Gallardo, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley. There aren’t many quality free agent starting pitchers available this winter, so he could fetch a pretty nice contract if he elects to stick around.
The Rockies are no longer in the running for Oswalt, but also remain interested in Kevin Millwood and Jeff Francis.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.
Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”
“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”
Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.
Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.
The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.
The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.
The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.
The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.
Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.