Hiroki Kuroda strikes out 11 in win over White Sox

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Who needs CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, anyway? OK, well the Yankees do if they hope to go anywhere. But Hiroki Kuroda is holding things down quite nicely at the moment.

Kuroda was dominant this afternoon, allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings as part of a 4-0 win over the White Sox. He tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts while walking just one batter.

Kuroda got off to a bit of a shaky start in pinstripes, posting a 4.50 ERA through his first eight starts, but he has rebounded with a 1.99 ERA over his last eight and has allowed three runs or less in seven of them. The 36-year-old right-hander now has a solid 3.17 ERA and 80/31 K/BB ratio over 102 1/3 innings. Chatter that he couldn’t cut in the American League is but a distant memory.

The offense this afternoon was supplied by, you guessed it, the home run ball. Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Dewayne Wise all had solo shots. Wise also added an RBI double. Pretty interesting week for that guy, huh?

Kuroda’s performance overshadowed Jake Peavy, who tossed his fourth complete game of the season. Incredibly, he’s taken losses in three of them. Peavy struck out 11 for his first double-digit strikeout game since May 22, 2009 against the Cubs. While he has lost each of his last four starts, he still has an outstanding 2.96 ERA and 101/24 K/BB ratio over 112 2/3 innings this season. He’s an easy call to make the American League All-Star team.

UPDATE: Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com notes that Peavy will honor the memory of former Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds by donating $100 to pancreatic cancer research for every strikeout in MLB games today. There were 24 strikeouts in this game alone. Good on you, Jake.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.