After Hong-Chih Kuo (above) baffled the Mets over the course of 6 shutout innings in his big league debut as a starter September 8, the Dodgers have tapped the rookie left hander to start Thursday night’s NLDS Game Two. Presumably, ESPN.com’s Keith Law would hail the move, having written on Sunday,
The secret weapon for the Dodgers is Hong-Chih Kuo — a survivor of two Tommy John surgeries who cleared outright waivers in 2004, shortly after the second procedure. It’s amazing no one took a flier on him, as lefties with low-90s fastballs, hard sliders in the low 80s (up to 85), usable changeups, and good control are tough to come by. Lefties with much less than that will be receiving three- and four-year deals this winter. If the Dodgers face any opponent with good left-handed hitters in its lineup, they need to get Kuo at least one start in the series. If they face the Mets, for example, and bump Kuo in favor of a right-hander, they’re surrendering a huge advantage.
The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman, prior to analyzing the NLDS on baseball terms notes the Dodgers’ “dislikable 2006 roster. From second baseman Jeff Kent (the biggest Texas redneck ever to hail from Berkeley) to shortstop Rafael Furcal (twice convicted of drunk driving), the Dodgers’ roster is in no small part comprised of miscreants, derelicts, and plain goons.”
(Presumably, wife-beating Julio Lugo and wife-ditching Derek Lowe go without saying. But there, I’ve said it).
Even if we assume that cold weather, sinkers, and big yards will degrade their power attack, the Mets have onbase skills and are hell on the basepaths, something they’ll be able to take extra advantage of with rookie catcher Russell Martin starting for the Dodgers. They also have a good enough defense that the Dodgers’ main offensive strength ” contact and line-drive hitting ” should be somewhat nullified, especially since the Mets’ starters pitch to contact.
For the Mets to win they’ll have to get on the bases and be aggressive once they get there. On defense, they need to catch the ball behind the starters so the relievers can start coming in after five or six innings.
This is hardly an impossible task, and further, the Dodgers’ staff is not comprised of men 10 feet tall. Maddux, brilliant as he’s been since arriving in L.A., is still an elderly man who can’t break 85 with the wind at his back.And no matter how many shutout innings Kuo pitched against the Mets a month ago, he is still a rookie with less than 60 innings logged in the major leagues.
Mike’s Mets grades the Amazins’ lineup and in addition to acknowledging the surprising career resurrection of Guillermo Mota (headed for a NLCS reunion with sparring partner Metal Mike?), says of Clubhouse Conscience Country Time,
A remarkable turnaround for the little redneck. If you can get yourself to look past the fact that he gives up some baserunners, you can allow yourself to be impressed by 40 saves, including 18 in a row and 26 of 27. He makes me nervous, no lies about that, but he gets it done, and that’s the bottom line. Name me a Mets closer who was better, and I mean ever.
Though I hardly disagree with the above opinion, and as much as I would like to live up to the creed of my “Stop Snitching” size XXXL tee, Captain Fucko just requested directions to Mike’s place. So with that in mind, Mike, you might wanna have someone else start the car for you.