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!