A More Consistent KurodaWednesday, August 15, 2012
The Cardinals’ two-year, $26 million free agent agreement with National League MVP candidate Carlos Beltran looks like the steal of the offseason, but Hiroki Kuroda’s one-year, $10 million pact with the Yankees can’t be too far behind.
The Japanese right-hander was a force again Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, stifling a dangerous Rangers lineup over nine shutout innings as New York pushed its American League-leading record to 69-47 with a 3-0 victory. Kuroda struck out five batters and surrendered just two hits while improving to 11-8 on the year. He has a 3.06 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and a 121/38 K/BB ratio over 159 total frames this season, and has been especially locked in since the beginning of the second half.
There were worries that Kuroda, with his calm and relaxed demeanor, might struggle under the bright lights of the American League East. And there were times earlier this season where he looked a little overmatched. But it would be silly to go on caring about such trivial talking points. Kuroda has made it quite clear this summer that he can pitch anywhere and in any matchup, and he should remain a must-start down the stretch in fantasy leagues as the Yankees look to capture their third division title in four years.
Kuroda will face the Red Sox next. He held them to two runs over eight innings last time out.
We Need Moore, Moore, Moore
Rays left-hander Matt Moore entered the 2012 campaign soaked from head to toe in warranted hype after striking out 210 batters in 155 innings between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham in 2011. It took a little while, but the youngster is finally meeting the kind of expectations that are naturally generated by such gaudy numbers.
Moore struck out nine batters and issued only one walk across seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday night in a no-decision against the Mariners (the Rays would wind up losing 3-2). He threw 70 of his 95 pitches for strikes, showing excellent command of his high-90s fastball while featuring plenty of sharp curves and changeups.
The 23-year-old former eighth-round pick has yielded just four earned runs in his last 32 2/3 innings -- which comes out to a ridiculous 1.102 ERA -- and boasts a 34/8 K/BB ratio in that span.
Moore has the goods to be an ace in this league -- not eventually, but right now -- and should dominate over the next several weeks. Tampa Bay is currently clinging to an American League Wild Card spot.
National League Quick Hits: Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia (shoulder) is expected to return from the disabled list Sunday to face the Pirates … Madison Bumgarner allowed just one run on five hits in a complete-game victory Tuesday night against the first-place Nationals ... Chad Billingsley tossed eight shutout innings Tuesday in the Dodgers’ blowout win over the Pirates … Marlins catcher Rob Brantly went 0-for-3 in his major league debut Tuesday versus the Phillies … Troy Tulowitzki (groin) has been cleared for all baseball activities but still has no official recovery timetable … Mat Latos fired seven innings of scoreless ball in Tuesday night’s defeat of the Mets … Pirates outfielder Travis Snider remains day-to-day with a tweaked right hamstring … Ian Desmond (oblique) is on track to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday … Cardinals center fielder and new leadoff man Jon Jay is suddenly batting .315 with a .392 on-base percentage … Carlos Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI in a victory over the Brewers on Tuesday … The Mets are likely to give Johan Santana and Chris Young extra days of rest down the stretch … Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start due to chest soreness … Michael Cuddyer (oblique) began a rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs and should return to the Rockies on Thursday … The Nationals could make prospect Anthony Rendon a surprise September call-up … The Pirates may move struggling starter James McDonald to the bullpen … Scott Rolen has missed five straight games because of back discomfort … Braves starter Ben Sheets has admitted to feeling general soreness … Veteran left-hander Brian Fuentes is not expected to return to the Cardinals this season due to a personal matter … Joey Votto told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t plan on returning until his surgically-repaired knee is back to 100 percent health.
American League Quick Hits: Twins outfielder Josh Willingham slugged his career-best 30th home run on Tuesday night … Miguel Cabrera lifted his RBI total to 101 in Tuesday’s defeat of the Twins … Mike Napoli (quad) was cleared to resume hitting on Tuesday afternoon and also did some leg exercises … The Indians officially reinstated right-hander Roberto Hernandez -- formerly known as Fausto Carmona -- from the restricted list … Brandon Morrow (oblique) tossed four-plus scoreless innings Tuesday in a rehab start at Double-A New Hampshire … Albert Pujols is on pace for 36 homers, 44 doubles and 114 RBI ... Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie hurled seven scoreless innings Tuesday night against the A’s … Dallas Braden needs a second surgery on his left shoulder … Josh Beckett was shelled for six runs in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday as the Red Sox fell to the Orioles … The Twins optioned shortstop Brian Dozier to the Triple-A level on Tuesday after watching him bat .234/.271/.332 in 84 games … Mark Reynolds homered twice in the Orioles’ thrashing of the Red Sox on Tuesday night in Baltimore … Tigers right-hander Doug Fister has a 55/10 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings since the All-Star break … Carl Crawford has posted a decent .815 OPS with three home runs, three stolen bases and 17 RBI in 26 games since returning from the disabled list … The Blue Jays signed Yorvit Torrealba to a minor league contract and Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $3 million extension with a $1.5 million club option for 2015 … Alex Rodriguez was cleared to begin baseball-related activities after an X-ray on his left hand Tuesday showed steady healing … The Royals released infielder Yuniesky Betancourt … Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and two steals in Tuesday’s loss to the White Sox.