In a Japanese All-Star match-up, Kosuke Fukudome will get to face an old foe Tuesday night at Wrigley. The Dodgers will send rookie Hiroki Kuroda to face Kosuke and his teammates. One of those teammates, Alfonso Soriano, was once a member of Kuroda's team. With all this natural interest, it is no surprise the game will be broadcast live in Japan.
Kuroda has a reputation of strike-thrower who changes speeds. After referring to various sources (Prospect Insider, Fangraphs, interviews etc.) I'm able to align reality with what I've observed - he throws five pitches.
Forkball (or Splitter, but he calls it a forkball)
Given his ability to change speeds, the slider and the cutter can blend, and the slider can look more like a curveball etc.
There is one pitch that was an outlier. I understand pitches are on a continuum, but this is off the chart. Here's the big picture - see the dark blue dot up in his four-seamer (gold dots)
Turns out to be his last pitch a couple weeks ago against the Angels. Vlady put it in play, driving in a run on a fielders choice. Ross Paul's real-time ID was CH. It hides amongst a few others they ID as change-ups, but I found those to be either sliders or forkballs. So, I go to the video on mlb.com to see for myself. (BTW, notice what may be a bunch of curves hanging around the slider? I still think they're sliders, of some type).
I manage to find his last inning, in progress against Gary Matthews, Jr., at 2:09:07. He threw a pair of wild pitches, but neither were captured by Gameday. Vlad comes up and fouls one right down the line (and fair), it is called foul, and an argument ensues. Then, when things settle down, the last pitch is thrown by Kuroda. While Gameday lists a 76.7 mph pitch, it shows up as 94 on the gun, and looks like a good old fashioned heater - probably a four-seamer. Something went wrong with that one.
But I digress.... Here is the aggregate pitch chart for Kuroda
The forkball and slider are both pretty nasty. The slider, however, is thrown for more strikes.
Here's how he mixes pitches by batter hand
F2 42.6% 16.5%
F4 8.6% 26.6%
FC 14.3% 17.1%
FF 20.9% 14.3%
SL 13.8% 25.5%
Someone needs to tell Jim Edmonds about that forkball.