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Dodgers have to be concerned about Hiroki Kuroda after his latest poor outing in 11-3 loss to Rockies

May 29, 2010 |  8:39 pm

Are you worried about Hiroki Kuroda?

Maybe you should be. Just maybe it’s time to be concerned.

Kuroda was the one stable aspect to the Dodgers’ rotation in April, but he has taken a slow but obvious turn of late.

His struggles in the Dodgers’ 11-3 loss to the Rockies on Saturday were the most pronounced sign of a struggling pitcher, but hardly the first.

In Kuroda’s first five starts of the season, he was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA.

In Kuroda’s last five starts, he is 2-2 with a 6.20 ERA.

Same guy, very different results.

Against the Rockies on Saturday, he was almost unrecognizable from the pitcher who had looked liked the team’s much-desired ace to start the season.

His command was clearly lacking. His pitches were up. He had great trouble getting a first-pitch strike. He was unable to pitch out of jams.

He threw 81 pitches -- only 47 for strikes -- in just four-plus innings of work. And true, if Manny Ramirez makes a rather routine catch on Todd Helton’s foul ball in the first and Rafael Furcal strangely doesn’t unnecessarily fire a throw past James Loney for an error in the third, he could have escaped with much less damage.

But in his four innings, he gave up 10 hits, hit a batter and walked one. Five of the seven runs he allowed were earned. Sharp, he wasn’t.

Is it just a slump? Is he hurt? Just one of those things?

The Dodgers’ rotation is so thin -- they still can’t identify a fifth starter even after the unexpected emergence of John Ely has seemingly solidified one spot -- they can’t really afford for Kuroda to go south on them.

Kuroda has been the rotation’s veteran presence. At the moment, he’s become an unexpected uncertainty.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Starter Hiroki Kuroda, left, talks to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and catcher A.J. Ellis after giving up two runs in the first inning of the Dodgers' 11-3 loss in Colorado on Saturday. Credit: Ed Andrieski / Associated Press.