Friday, Hiroki Kuroda took over the Dodger lead in ERA at 2.90, moving ahead of a pitcher most assume will make the National League All-Star team, Clayton Kershaw. In his past six starts, Kuroda has a 1.72 ERA, and opponents are batting .191 against him. So has Kuroda pitched his way into All-Star consideration?
In 2010, there were eight starting pitchers on the NL roster until injured Yovani Gallardo of Milwaukee was replaced by San Diego reliever Heath Bell. In 2009, there were also eight starting pitchers, with Pittsburgh’s Zach Duke replacing San Francisco’s Matt Cain. So top-eight is the neighborhood you want to be in, if not even better.
Here’s where Kershaw and Kuroda currently rank in certain categories that might matter to the various selectors for the NL, which is making its All-Star roster announcement Sunday:
ERA: Kuroda ninth, Kershaw 10th
Strikeouts: Kershaw first, Kuroda 27th
Innings: Kershaw third (tie), Kuroda 16th (tie)
Wins: Kershaw ninth (tie), Kuroda 27th (tie)
WHIP: Kershaw third, Kuroda 20th
Complete games: Kershaw third, Kuroda has none
Shutouts: Kershaw second (tie), Kuroda has none
Quality starts: Kershaw seventh (tie), Kuroda 17th (tie)
Strikeout/walk ratio: Kershaw fourth, Kuroda 25th
Strikeouts per nine innings: Kershaw first, Kuroda 32nd
Fielding-independent ERA: Kershaw third, Kuroda 34th
Wins Above Replacement: Kershaw fourth, Kuroda 36th
Opponents OPS: Kershaw second, Kuroda 29th
Losses: Kuroda first (tie), Kershaw 75th (tie)
As you can see, outside of ERA, Kuroda’s case is very slim. Now, I wouldn’t completely rule out Kuroda sneaking onto a roster at the last minute, the way Hong-Chih Kuo and Rafael Furcal did a year ago, if a need for a substitute player arises. ERA might be the pitching category that has the most importance for All-Star selectors, plus Kuroda seems to be a popular player in baseball and one who might be in his last year pitching Stateside. But, it’s a tough year to pitch your way into the elite.
No doubt, many Dodger fans would be just as happy to see Kuroda get the All-Star break to rest.
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Could the 37-46 Dodgers win nine games in a row? Perhaps they’ll find some odd encouragement in the play of their Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, where the once 42-30 Isotopes have lost nine in a row.