Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Wish On A Dandelion

Is the term that Jone Weisman, of Dodger Thoughts fame used to describe Guo's 2007 outlook prior to his 2008 award winning season. Weisman goes on to say...
It took a while for Joe Torre to trust him in important situations, but eventually [G]uo saw regular use in a season that left him with a 2.14 ERA (199 ERA+), 96 strikeouts against 84 baserunners in 80 innings, and no trips to the disabled list.

An ERA+ of 199 are you kidding me? That's a great feat for a 26 year old pitcher. One of the best in the last 20 years I'd guess. Well, using B-Ref, I performed a quick query of the last 20 years, with pitchers having thrown 80+ innings in their age 26 season. The results put Guo's 2008 ERA+ as #10 on the list. Click here to see the Baseball-Ref query and the complete list of best ERA+ seasons as a 26 year old. And if you filter by only LHP, Guo shoots up to #2 on the list only behind J.C. Romero's amazing 2002 season with an 236 ERA+. Guo is slated to be the setup man and likely backup closer should anything happen to Broxton. With that the case, I'd expect Guo to cherry pick atleast a half a dozen or so saves this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Red Envelope Please...

The offseason accalades keep pouring in for HongZhi Guo. The latest piece of hardware for the flamethrowing southpaw is the TYIB Setup Man Of The Year Award.

[K]uo won with 30.3 percent of the vote. He was followed by Grant Balfour of the Rays (19.2 percent), Carlos Marmol of the Cubs (17.6), Scot Shields of the Angels (7.5), Brad Ziegler of the Athletics (6.1), Scott Downs of the Blue Jays (4.9), Mike Adams of the Padres (4.5), Dan Wheeler of the Rays (4.2), Taylor Buchholz of the Rockies (3.8) and Chad Qualls of the Diamondbacks (2.1).
[K]uo went 5-3 with a 2.14 ERA and his first career save in 42 games (including three starts), allowing only 60 hits in a career-high 80 innings while striking out 96 and only walking 21. His relief ERA of 1.69 led the league (minimum of 50 innings), and opponents hit only .204 against him.

While this award is a great accomplishment for Guo, who is as talented as any pitcher on the Dodgers staff, it goes to show what great numbers Guo is capable of if he remains healthy. The question will always be there if Guo has the durability to pitch back to back days out of the pen, or every fifth day in the starting rotation. Last year as the season progressed, Guo was given the opportunity to pitch in higher leverage situations. Guo should have a good shot at repeating as the TYIB Setup Man of the Year, a feat that nobody has ever accomplished(1). Unbeknownst to the Dodgers front office and members of the media, the award kicked in a stipulation in Guo's contract wherein his last name must be spelled with a 'G'.

(1) - Research Department is currently investigating this claim
Hat Tip: to Underdog on this story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Huncharm Of Taiwan

It appears that Guo's season is likely over. Even though he is playing catch on the side, I see a return this season at about 10%. What a great season he had and the Dodgers will miss him in the playoffs. Hopefully, Guo can make it through the offseason without having to need another surgery. Guo had an amazing K/9 of 10.8 this season. Control, is usually Guo's greatest enemy but this year he battled those deamons and ended up with a K/BB of 4.57. As a relieve Guo's K/9 was a stunning 11.16, 8th best of any relief pitcher in MLB with over 60 innings pitched. His K/BB was 3rd best in the majors for all relief pitchers, second only to Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon. There's no doubt that Guo is one of the league's best pitchers when healthy. I hope he will be able to contribute to this team, if not in the post-season, next spring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good & Plenty

HongZhi Guo has been sweet music to the ears of Dodger fans, as he is posting some of the best stats of any major league pitcher this season. It would be nice if he was doing so in a starting role, or in higher leverage relief appearances. With the apparent injury to Dodger closer Takashi Saito, Guo will likely be thrusted into a more important role in the bullpen. We here at Guo Mania would like to see Guo become the main 8th inning setup man, the role that Broxton is currently being used in, if Broxton gets moved to the closer role while Saito is out. Let's take a closer look at the dominating numbers Guo has put up so far this year.
2008 Season 53+ 10.63 4.85 2.19 0.34 0.96 1.69 2.03 .292 1.46
Career 148+ 10.35 2.63 3.93 0.54 1.33 4.06 3.01 .331 1.11

These are amazing numbers that Guo is putting up. His FIP and BABIP go to show that his great numbers are NOT luck based. Comparing his 2008 stats with his career line, Guo's biggest improvement this year is in his control, or lack of walks. Bluntly put, Guo is walking less batters this year than in the past. Combine that with Guo's skill of suppressing homeruns and his amazing strike-out ratio, good things are going to happen. Hopefully, Guo will continue to see some high leverage situations, so the Dodgers can reap the benefit of Guo's tremendous talents. In 5 of his 6 appearances, Guo has pitched in above average leverage situations. Prior to the last 6 appearances, Guo appeared in 6 consecutive very low leverage situations.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dream Of Guofornication

The manner in which Dodger manager Joe Torre has used HongZhi Guo this season has gotten beyond the point of ridiculous. Guo (3.2 WAR), has arguably been the Dodgers best pitcher this year, striking out 47 batters in 40-1/3 innings pitched, while allowing only 2 homeruns and 10 walks. In the table below, I take a look at the average leverage index upon entering a game for all Dodger relievers, along with their "Wins Above Average" (WAR) score. Guo should not be used for mop up duty. He has better numbers than Saito (the closer), Broxton (the setup man) and Beimel (the LOOGY/other setup man). Scott Proctor should not be pitching in any situation other than mop up. He is the only Dodger pitcher with negative value and he is seeing higher leverage situations on average than Guo and Wade.
Game Entrance - Leverage Index
Pitcher gmLI WAR
Guo 0.64 3.21
Saito 1.57 2.17
Broxton 1.35 2.49
Beimel 1.20 1.70
Proctor 0.77 -.22
Wade 0.55 1.17
Park 0.83 0.35

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Guo We Trust

He did it again. Pitching brilliantly out of the bullpen, HongZhi Guo helped the Dodgers knock off the Angels. Guo went four innings, striking out four, walking none and gave up only three hits. Perhaps Guo will earn another shot at the starting rotation? However it's unlikely as manager Joe Torre seems to like Guo as the second component of a tag team 5th starter duo with either Chan Ho Park or Esteban Loaiza. We here at Guo-Mania have mixed feelings about Guo's current role. We believe Guo should be the 5th starter based on merit, but have no problem with Guo pitching in this role if it is to keep his innings down, as he is coming off of a fourth arm surgery. We would just like Guo to pitch in high leverage innings. We don't want him to be placed into a long relief, low leverage mop up role. With the likes of Park and Loaiza starting ahead of Guo, chances are there won't be too many high leverage long relief outings from Guo. Today was not one of those days though. Park actually pitched well. The Dodgers defense (Loney), let Park down a little bit. Guo came in with the Dodgers holding a 4-2 lead. The Dodgers "Win Expectancy" was 65.4% when Guo came in, in the 5th inning. All five batters Guo faced in the bottom of the 5th inning were higher than average leverage situations, with Kotchman's two out at bat with runners on first and second a 2.3 leverage index. Guo got Kotchman to ground out. Guo would then go on to face one more above average leverage situation in each the 6th, 7th and 8th inning. All three of those batters making outs. Saito then came on to pitch the 9th inning with the Dodgers leading 6-2, giving up one run, as the Dodgers held on for a 6-3 victory.

Notes: Fangraphs Game Play Log

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Things were looking bleak for the Dodgers. Trailing 4-1 in the 4th inning with two runners on base, the Mets were about to blow open the game against Dodger pitcher Kiroki Kuroda. Then the bullpen phone rang, and up got none other than HongZhi Guo. He had been called upon to rescue the Dodgers before, but this would be a difficult task against the NL East leading Mets. Guo immediately struck out both Carlos DelGado and Angel Pagan to retire the side, then went on to strike out 8 Mets batters in 3-2/3 innings, for an amazing K/9 of 19.6 for the game. Guo entered the game with a Dodger win expectancy of 34.1% and left the game with a win expectancy of 78.7%. The only two Mets batters to reach base against Guo were on a walk and a hit batter. Guo's bullpen statistics now look as good as any top closer in the game. Let's take a look and compare Guo's bullpen stats to Broxton's and Saito's numbers thus far.

Bullpen Stats
Guo 13-2/3 23 3 15.15 1.98 0.66 0.80
Saito 15-1/3 16 5 9.39 2.93 0.59 1.17
Broxton 15 21 6 12.60 3.60 0.00 1.00

It's not the largest sample size in the world, but nonetheless Guo has put up better numbers pitching out of the bullpen than both Saito and Broxton. The big question would be whether or not Guo would be able to keep up this pace pitching in late inning, high leverage situations. Guo would be a better option as a 5th starter (when needed) than Esteban Loaiza, but after Guo's magnificent performance last night, manager Joe Torre when asked if Guo would be the 5th starter come May 17th said no.

Tony Jackson - Daily News
"No," Torre said. "That second left-hander in the bullpen ... that's important."

Well, if the Dodgers are going to keep Guo in the bullpen, then they need to start giving him some higher leverage situations to pitch in. I am a little worried about Guo being the mop up pitcher for Loaiza and Kuroda et al. If you are going to keep Guo in the bullpen, then by all means call up Clayton Kershaw to make a few starts in the 5th starter role. If Kershaw is not an option this early in the season, then use Guo as the 5th starter. Leaving Guo in the bullpen is fine, but let's start using him in some higher leverage situations and demote Scott Proctor to mop up duty.