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.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Plop, Plop ... Fizz, Fizz

The last time we met, HongZhi Guo was demoted from the starting rotation and replaced with the veteran Esteban Loaiza. Guo's short stint as a starter didn't go great, but it didn't go bad either. Control was Guo's main problem. That and a pitch count that kept him from getting into the 5th inning of a game. It is my opinion that Guo was put into the starting rotation too soon, especially if he wasn't going to be allowed enough starts to stretch out his arm. There was very little margin for error in Guo's pitching performance to allow him to stay in the rotation. Once allowed to join the rotation, Guo should've been permitted to make more starts. It's not as if the Dodgers had a good pitcher waiting in the wings to take the 5th starter spot. Loaiza has been very bad in his starts, getting no deeper into games than Guo did, all the while giving up more runs than Guo did. Let's take a closer look at the 5th starter spot for the Dodgers.

Loaiza 3 11-1/3 2.38 2.38 1.59 1.50 56.0 7.52
Guo 3 10-2/3 8.44 5.06 0.84 1.89 70.3 5.45

It's obvious that Guo has better stuff than Loaiza and the much higher ceiling. The only category that Loaiza trumps Guo on is walks allowed. Control, which has always been Guo's downfall is what hurt him as a starter. The number that stands out ot me, is the fact that Guo pitched nearly the same number of innings as Loaiza as a starter (in the same number of starts) even though he had a strict pitch count in all three starts. Both Guo and Loaiza ended up taxing the bullpen at near equal levels. Keep in mind that 11 or so innings, is not a large enough sample size to go by. Now let's take a look at what each has done as a reliever.

Loaiza 4 12-2/3 4.26 1.42 0.71 0.95 NA 4.54
Guo 4 10 13.50 1.80 0.90 1.00 NA 3.10

Pitching out of the bullpen, Guo has been awesome. Guo has an impressive K/9 of 13.5 and has displayed pinpoint control pitching out of the bullpen. Does this mean that Guo should be pitching out of the bullpen? Perhaps it does for now, if for no other reason that it may help prevent wear and tear on his 4-time surgically repaired left arm. Guo should probably be allowed to pitch some more higher leverage innings if he is going to stay in the bullpen. There is no reason to waste that kind of talent in only low leverage situations. Using Torre's logic thus far, Guo will probably be named the 5th starter due to his great pitching out of the bullpen... and the cycle will continue. What it does tell me, that if Guo isn't going to be pitching in the rotation, the Dodgers could sure use the services of Clayton Kershaw, in the 5th starter spot!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Musical Guos

Dodger manager Joe Torre announced that Esteban Loaiza will retake HongZhi Guo's place in the starting rotationi. I felt it was a little too soon for Guo to be in the starting rotation given his conditioning after coming back from a 4th surgery. But this game of musical chairs of moving him from the bullpen to the rotation and back to the bullpen all in the month of April cannot be a good thing. Guo didn't pitch all that bad. It appears that Guo, Loaiza and possibly Park are just being used as place holders until Kershaw is ready to come up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rough Time Of It

Last night was a step back for HongZhi Guo in his quest to secure the 5th starter spot. It was not a typical Guo-like performance. Normally, Guo litters the box score with Ks and BBs, while being stingy in the Hits/HR categories. Last night, was quite the opposite. Guo only struck out one batter and didn't walk any batters. Guo instead pitched to contact. Whether that was on purpose or not, I have no idea. It could've been a strategy to keep his walk rate down and help him pitch deeper in to the game. Cincinnati is not exactly the stadium you want to pitch to contact at, as it's a hitters park. Guo found that out when he gave up a homerun to Reds slugger Adam Dunn, Guo's first of the season. Guo recorded nine outs on batted balls in play (BABIP), as one of them came on a double play. Meanwhile, Guo gave up seven hits on BABIP, which most people will tell you is very unlucky. How unlucky Guo was is up for debate as some balls that went for hits were hit hard and more than a few were not. In previous starts, Guo's high walk rates got him to his pitch count quickly and last night it was the high hit rate. One of these days Guo will put it all together. Let's just hope it comes sooner rather than later. Guo's next start should come Sunday April 27th at home against the Rockies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am a Walk, I am an Island

HongZhi Guo, making his first start of the 2008, after battling back from his fourth arm surgery pitched well after escaping a few first inning jitters. Guo walked three batters in a row with two outs in the first inning, allowing the Pirates their only run when his last walk plated Nate McLouth who had lead off the game with a single to right field. Guo struck out Jose Bautista for the final out and ended up stringing together five consecutive strike outs. Guo registered a total of six strike-outs in four innings, he walked four batters and allowed only two singles. It was a very typical Guo outing. Getting into trouble with walks, making a lot of pitches and striking out a lot of batters. Still, it was his first start of the season and hopefully he will improve on it five games from now. Look for Guo to have a similar pitch count of 75 pitches in his next start, before Torre begins bumping it up a little bit each time Guo goes out to the mound.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yo Ho Yo Ho

Guo Joins The Rotation.
Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will bump Esteban Loaiza from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Pirates, according to manager Joe Torre.

The goal of management is to bide time with Loaiza, Park and Kuo taking starts for another month or so while preserving the arm of 20-year-old phenom Clayton Kershaw, who has never pitched more than 122 innings in a professional season.

Skinny: What a great moment for Guo fans. For a while it looked as if this day would never happen. I am not surprised that Guo finds himself in the rotation, just a little surprised that it is happening this early. This spot in the rotation will eventually go to Kershaw and the Dodgers would like to keep Kershaw down in the minors for another month or two. Guo's innings also need to be watched, and I don't expect him to pitch more than 5 innings per start on most occasions. Between his four time surgically repaired pitching arm and his tendancy to be a little wild, the bullpen better be well rested on days that Guo starts. Luckily for Guo, his first start will be against a weak hitting Pirates team. Best of luck!!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hot Start

HongZhi Guo is off to a hot start in 2008. He has yet to give up a run, is allowing less than one hit per inning and over one strike out per inning. He has struggled a bit with his control, issuing 4 walks in 6+ innings. Guo's first outing of the season came as a starter, as he substituted for scheduled starter Chad Billingsley when rain threatened the early innings of the game. Guo's second outing saw Guo pitch 3+ effective innings against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers may in fact be looking for a new 5th starter shortly if Loaiza doesn't turn things around, but I don't see Guo as being the first option to fill that role. Guo's innings will be watched closely the first third of the season, as he is coming of a fourth arm surgery. Let's take a close look at Guo's rate stats after the first week of the season.

Guo 6-2/3 0 8 4 4 0 10.8 5.4 2.0 1.20 0.00

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hello Bullpen My Old Friend

Diamond Leung reports that HongZhi Guo will likely be starting the season in the bullpen.
Skinny: I really don't find this as a surprise and I see little problem with this plan. The only downside is that Guo does not have a history of being effective pitching in relief. I am not confident that the sample size is large enough for this to be a future trend. On the otherhand, this could wind up helping Guo by taking some pressure off of him. As a bullpen pitcher he would likely be pitching lower leverage innings. Coming off of off-season surgery, starting the season in the bullpen could help put a limit on the number of innings that Guo pitches in this year. I see it as highly unlikely to have Guo start AND finish the season in the starting rotation. The best scenario is for him to follow the path that Chad Billingsley took last year. Starting the season in the bullpen and then working his way into the rotation based on merit and a rotation spot opening up. With the uncertainty of Schmidt's health and the possible ineffectiveness of Loaiza, Guo could shortly find himself called upon to enter the starting rotation by June.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Guo's Debut Live Blogged!

Diamond Leung is going to kindly live blog the 2008 Spring Training debut of HongZhi Guo. Hat tip to Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts.
Skinny: While this normally wouldn't be any big deal. Guo hasn't faced live batting in quite a while. And to top things off, this will be the first impression that new manager Joe Torre has of Guo. We all know that Guo is fighting for one of the last remaining spots in the pitching staff and a decent outing would undoubtedly leave a good impression in Torre's mind. Let's pray for the best.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Healthy & Effective?

In Jon Weisman's DodgerThoughts, Spring Training Breakdown of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jon opines that he believes HongZhi Guo has a spot on the opening day 25-man roster if he can just do two things... Cut down on the visits to the surgeon (stay healthy) and don't walk too many people (be effective). In fact here is what Jon had to say about Guo.

Hong-Chih [G]uo, LHP: I think the Dodgers are past the point of worrying whether [G]uo would be better as a starting pitcher or a reliever. They're just wondering if he can stay healthy for consecutive months. Being out of options, [G]uo should make the Opening Day roster if he's upright, especially if the team goes with 12 pitchers. As a left-hander, he even has a shot joining the otherwise all-righty Dodger starting rotation if Schmidt can't answer the bell. He'll stick as long as he's healthy and effective.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dodgers & Guo Going to China

The Dodgers and Padres will play exhibition games in China this spring. For those of you who have never travelled to China but are considering a visit let me state that it will be the best place you've ever visited in your life. Please enjoy the following video. Good luck to both teams and may you have a safe and memorable trip to the Middle Kingdom. Huanying!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rose Parade

I was lucky enough to get front row/curbside seats to the Rose Parade.