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Daily Dodger in review: Hong-Chih Kuo and one of the team's greatest seasons for a reliever

HONG-CHIH KUO, 29, reliever

Final 2010 stats: 3-2, 1.20 ERA, 12 saves in 13 opportunities, 0.78 WHIP, 73 strikeouts and 18 walks in 60 innings pitched.

Contract status: Arbitration eligible.

The good: The Dodgers’ feel-good story of the year. Unexpectedly put together his finest season. After missing the first two weeks of the season, he  stayed healthy the rest of the year. Team tried to treat his tender elbow gingerly, though not always, and by mid-August he had emerged as the team closer.

His 1.20 ERA led all major league relievers and was the lowest in Dodgers history for a pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings. Left-handers went a ridiculous 6-for-63 against him (.095). Was named to the All-Star team for the first time. Allowed only one home run all season. Averaged 10.95 strikeouts per nine innings. Saves in his last 12 consecutive opportunities.

The bad: Suffered two losses. Wait, that’s actually good; he appeared in 56 games. Pitched in consecutive games only four times all season, but they were trying to be careful with him.

What’s next: Next season, he’s slated to return to his left-handed set-up role, as the Dodgers again go to Jonathan Broxton as their closer. If Broxton wavers, however, there’s no reason to hesitate in going more quickly to Kuo.

The take: Kuo is a two-way, take-your-breath-away pitcher. At first, he takes your breath as you hope he doesn’t blow out his elbow for a fifth time. Then you see his stuff, and you lose your breath all over again.

At some point, they’re probably going to have to let him go and use him as they would any other reliever, or at least come close. Still, every time he pitched more than one inning (16 times last season), you were crossing your fingers.

Left-handers have almost no shot against him. He’s as automatic as a manager could dream of. He started the year on the disabled list with a sore elbow, and it was hard to think you could never really count on him again. And then after allowing two earned runs in his first game, he allowed only six more the rest of the entire season. He was the Dodgers pitcher of the year.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Comments () | Archives (20)

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Look, Broxton is done. Get over it. He's finished. Mentally shot his load. Young, fat, stupid...whatever. Who cares. Make Kuo the closer. Pitch him when there is a one inning close situation. With our team that should be once a week at best. Marlins looking for a closer and catcher for DAN UGGLA. I will pay for airline tickets. Send Broxton and Russell Martin First Class to Florida for DAN UGGLA.

Me worry?

He may blow out the elbow the next time he's on the rubber -

But letting him go would be a grave mistake. Kuo is a keeper. One of the few among the current 40-man roster.

Broxton is not done. Not that I wouldn't trade him cause I would. Your suggested trade is a good one. Torre just mishandled him.

Enough said...........

What? Dan Uggla is available? And What? The Dodgers need a second baseman? What's the hold up? Oh yea, money!

Why give broxton a chance to blow MORE games and put us out farther in the standings like he did last season. Unless his offseason work includes a brain transplant with a changeup, Dodger fans are in for another season of blown saves in key situations see Matt Stairs.

pitcher of the year? kuo was great. deserves his own bobblehead but he was not the blue's pitcher of the year. that honor goes to kershaw. really, it was kershaw.

don't know how you can just promote someone who has failed miserably just because it's a new season. and how can you "demote" kuo after his season?

Broxton, for 1 inning has been just fine for the Dodgers. The problem is, he should never be used 3 games in a row, and never be used 5 times in 7 days. He is not, and will never be Mariano Rivera. If he does develop a changeup, or a better sinker, he would be lights out if he was not over used. Broxton can control his own destiny here. If he decides to learn it, he will. If not, any fastball is predictable when it comes 95% of the time. It doesn't matter if it is 100mph because it has no movement on it.

Leading up the relief corps - the Dodgers need to take the advice that was given by Nolan Ryan to the Rangers: No more pitch counts. You need to be able to go 7+ at the minimum. If you can not, then you are a relief pitcher and not a strong starter. The LA Starters did show some duribility in the last few weeks, and that is something to build from.

"Why give broxton a chance to blow MORE games and put us out farther in the standings like he did last season."
Fred you must be an optimist. As the team stands right now (A) I doubt Brox gets many opportunities to have a lead to blow, and (B) we can't get much further out than 4th, though I suppose we have better chance of battling for 5th next season.

Is his arbitration figures a secret?

Stan: They are yet to be submitted.

Kuo is one of the best relievers the Dodgers ever had and it can be added one of the best set-up men. He's a great closer too. The only fear is and probably always will be is him blowing out his elbow again. I think if he's used in the same way as he's been used he'll be fine.
But of course we have to keep our fingers crossed.

A retainer for this gainer is a no-brainer.

Broxton needs to be handled differently than he was last season by Torre. One inning max. Two games in a row, maybe, not always. Never 3. Never 3 out of 4. Despite his bulk, he doesn't have the stamina to carry a heavier load.

If you and i can get this by casually watching the games, i don't care what the mgr wants, he should get these players' limitations from his dugout vantage and stop blowing wins on Torre's "should" principle: Broxton SHOULD be able to get 4, 5, or 6 outs. Broxton SHOULD be able to pitch more than 2 out of 3 consecutive games. Broxton SHOULD be able to get out the side when he doesn't have it that night. Wrong wrong WRONG.

That poor thinking is based on the old unwritten baseball tradition established over the last 15 years that states the closer IS the one and only closer, because the closer gets paid to be the closer, and that every closer can handle the same workload.

NEW tradition, established 2011: When the closer has limitations, spread the job around. Kuo closes to a lefthanded 9th inning lineup. Kuo closes when Broxton closes the 2 nights before. Sometimes Broxton sets up Kuo, getting the last out in the 8th. ET CETERA! These two should expect to pitch either the 8th or 9th, depending on the circumstances. Because Broxton's and Kuo's workloads will each be slightly lighter this way than either of them would as THE closer, they ought to be ready to do either without being overworked and possibly injured.

Broxton may end up with 30 saves, Kuo 20. A new improved and successful formula is born. No more stupid expectations.

Kuo is a dominant guy, all right. I like him as the closer if Broxton falters. I don't think he should be used more than two days in a row, and never for more than one inning. The same goes for Broxton. Torre blew it last season trying to use him like he used Mariano Rivera. That said, Kuo and/or Broxton probably won't have to close that often because there won't be that many save situations.

Ok yes Broxton had struggles this year. We have seen this before from him when he was over used and mis handled. Please don't say he wasn't he pitched more 3 game, 4 game and 5 game stretches before the 120 game mark. He also couldn't get regular innings. Remember beginning of the season when he couldn't sniff a save opportunity. He couldnt get a regular save opportunity and when he did he was overused. If you knew anything about the Marlins you would know they wouldnt be looking for or even wanting Brox or Russell martin. They want young controllable and cheap guys. Not one guy who is an FA after this year or another on who is a FA in two seasons. Plus both make that will probably be making 7 mill in the coming year Brox at 7 mill and Martin who can make around 6-7 mill which is laughable.

Yes, Kuo is easily the best reliever in mlb this season, better than the over-rated Rivera. Opponent hitters feared him. In fact, Kuo absolutely killed the Giants this season.

The only disappointment I would say is Kuo didn't hit another homerun this year, and we don't see an encore of his "infamous" bat-flip. Instead of the Mets' Maine though, I like to see him hit one off Lincecum.

Maybe next year. :)

That's for sure that Kuo has become one of best set-up man in mlb these three years. People still hold suspense on his elbow, but the fact is he's been doing a fantastic job as bullpen.

Hong-Chih Kuo just lost the GIBBY today to Joaquin Benoit. Just thought I'd add that. Kuo totally should have gotten it.


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