Monday, February 16, 2009

Kuroda may start Opening Day

After showing in the playoffs how good he could be, Hiroki Kuroda may get the Opening Day nod on April 6 in San Diego. While it's not set in stone, Joe Torre seemed like that's the way he's leaning as of now.

There's a few reasons this may happen. For one, both Derek Lowe and Brad Penny are gone, and they have gotten the ball in recent years to start the season. Lowe is now in Atlanta and Penny is in Boston.

Two, Chad Billingsley broke his leg in the offseason, so it may take some pressure off of him knowing that he's not going to start the first game. Bills is said to be completely healthy, so we'll see. Plus, it's hard to forget just how lousy he was against the Phillies in the NLCS, so maybe a little less pressure will put him at ease to get back to his old self once the year starts. Remember, he's only 24, with plenty of good pitching ahead of him.

Kuroda was signed last year to be the 4th starter, but with Penny going down during the year, he was a great #3 guy. His record was only 9-10 during the regular season, but with a 3.73 ERA (great run support...). As I said before, he was awesome in the playoffs against the Cubs and Phillies, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA, including the lone with against the Phills.

So with Kuroda most likely going Opening Day, the rest of the rotation order is up in the air. Will Torre want to split the righties and lefties? Will he come right back with Billingsley the 2nd game? There's a lot left to answer.

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