Today in front of a big crowd at Dodgertown, Hong-Chiu Kuo was matched against Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. Unfortunately, Kuo did very little to advance his chances of winning the hotly contested 5th and final spot in the Dodger rotation.
In an unusual move Hong-Chiu Kuo chose to pitch “out of the stretch” for the whole of the rain-shorted game against a much depleted Boston line-up (no Manny or Ortiz). For someone poised to become either the 5th starter of Los Angeles or the ace of Las Vegas, it was a curious decision – and one that he will rue for the rest of this season. Not only was he tagged for three home runs, but during one terrible at bat against Matsuzaka, he still managed to walk him despite an 0-2 advantage! And this with Dice-K under strict managerial orders not to swing at anything. (Mike Hampton seriously injured himself during batting practice a week ago so Terry Francona was taking no chances.) How do you say very ugly in Taiwanese? It’s likely Kuo just booked his passage to Las Vegas with today’s performance.
Earlier this week, Grady Little raised a few eyebrows by deciding to send Chad Billingsley to the pen. Clearly, he feels that Billingsley is just not ready for the rotation yet. Long relief duty should allow him to work on his command and poise without the added pressure of starting.
It would appear that veteran Brett Tomko has once again shown enough in spring training to warrant becoming the 5th starter. Let’s hope that ‘Mr. March” has better luck sustaining his early success in 2007 then he has had in the past two seasons. Still too early to tell but the race for the 5th Dodger starter is fast coming to an unpleasant conclusion. If you are looking to round out your fantasy rotations I would look elsewhere.