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Depleted rotation could use consistent Kuroda

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on May 01, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Hiroki Kuroda

This probably goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway: the Yankees really need Hiroki Kuroda to get things figured out.

Kuroda’s set to make his sixth start of the season tonight, and so far he hasn’t been particularly good. What really defined his first two years in pinstripes was his unflinching consistency. He was even consistent in the way he would apparently tire at the end of the season and struggle down the stretch. Here are some key numbers from Kuroda the past two years:

2012: 3.32 ERA — 1.17 WHIP — 6.8 K per 9 — .249 opponents’ average
2013: 3.31 ERA — 1.16 WHIP — 6.7 K per 9 — .249 opponents’ average

That’s about as steady as it gets. Obviously a few things varied — his walk rate and FIP were each down in 2013 — but for the most part, Kuroda was a consistent bit of rotation stability, and that’s exactly what the Yankees could use right now. Here are those same four stats through Kuroda’s first five starts this season.

2014: 5.28 ERA — 1.38 WHIP — 5.6 K per 9 — .288 opponents’ average

That’s a pretty significant slide across the board, and it’s come in a season when the Yankees have lost two starters to injury and have another (CC Sabathia) who’s still working through a mid-30s transition that’s seen him pitch well the vast majority of his innings, while leaving himself vulnerable to crooked numbers and sudden letdowns. This year, as much as any that Kuroda has been with them, the Yankees could use some of Kuroda’s consistency.

Question is, can Kuroda still provide it? His velocity is down a little bit, but nothing too overwhelming (he’s lost .3 mph on his fastball according to Fangraphs, with similar dips for his other pitches), but Kuroda’s never been a guy who relied on raw velocity. His ability to blend fastballs, sliders and splitters has been key for Kuroda.

“Right now, there are certain pitches that are inconsistent,” Kuroda said after his most recent start. “I need to make an adjustment and get them back. The biggest thing is to improve the quality of my breaking ball.”

Kuroda’s 39 years old and he’s thrown at least 200 innings each of the past three seasons. Could be that he’s worn down and won’t be that consistent pitcher the Yankees are used to seeing. Could also be that five starts — not all of which have been particularly bad — aren’t enough to tell us anything for certain. What’s clear is that the Yankees are already seven starters deep, they’re going to be that way for a while, and right now only Masahiro Tanaka stands out as a truly reliable piece of the rotation.

The Yankees have gotten some quiet consistency from Kuroda in the past, and they could sure use it again.

Don’t forget, if you’re around a computer at noon, swing by the blog for today’s chat. Hope to see you then!

Associated Press photo





24 Responses to “Depleted rotation could use consistent Kuroda”

  1. Yankee Trader May 1st, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Good morning.

    Looking at his splits so far he doesn’t start off well, pitches 1-15 or end well, pitches
    46-60. Pitches 61-75 were not listed.
    Although worse in 2014, it’s not too far off when you look at those same stats for years 2011 thru 2013, combined.

    Are hitters getting a better read on him the second time thru the lineup?

  2. Your Name Here May 1st, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Over Kuroda’s last 13 games started he has a 6.07ERA. That’s not a small sample.

  3. Yankee Trader May 1st, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Other than Toronto, Kuroda from 2011 thru 2013 has pitched the most innings vs Angels with a 1.78 ERA and a .180 BAA. He owned them. They pummeled him his last outing.

  4. Yankee Trader May 1st, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Time to go.

    Until later.

    Have a great day.

  5. vitus May 1st, 2014 at 10:12 am

    hope the rays burn thru their relievers in today’s double headers, hope for a double extra inn games today

  6. bbb51 May 1st, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Your Name Here May 1st, 2014 at 9:20 am
    Over Kuroda’s last 13 games started he has a 6.07ERA. That’s not a small sample.

    Last year and this year are unlikely to be related, unless he is injured, and he doesn’t appear to be injured.

    Hopefully it’s just a matter of the weather.

  7. trisha - true pinstriped blue May 1st, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Good luck chicken! Let us know as soon as you know something. Sending good vibes your way.


    Tar, we are dealing with the same situation with one of my young nephews but it’s still too early to know for sure. Unfortunately his mother is having great difficulty dealing with the potential reality (she can’t accept that he won’t some day be president of the US), and it’s really turned their lives upside down because of it. Very sad situation. :(

  8. trisha - true pinstriped blue May 1st, 2014 at 10:35 am

    bbb51, I’m with you. When you mention weather here, some consider it excuse making. However, weather can play into lessening effectiveness. I think it’s crazy not to acknowledge that. When we played in beantown, the numbers of errors by both teams was pretty astounding. It was also extremely cold and very windy. Jeter even said he couldn’t believe how cold it felt, and he said picking up his glove felt like moving cement, something like that. And you know Jeter is not an excuse maker ever. Hello!

  9. J. Alfred Prufrock May 1st, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Weather an “excuse” for Kuroda, but not for Betances
    At AAA, IIRC

  10. J. Alfred Prufrock May 1st, 2014 at 10:52 am

    If ever there was a cipher lineup to help Kuroda
    Out, the one he’ll be facing tonight Is it.

  11. Chip May 1st, 2014 at 11:07 am

    JAP –

    Mariners would crush Kuroda if Montero was in the lineup :-)

  12. Tackelberry May 1st, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Anyone thnk Cano takes Kuroda deep tonight?

  13. Mottsx May 1st, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Guaranteed Cano hits a ball 450+ feet tonight off Kuroda.

  14. J. Alfred Prufrock May 1st, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Well if he does I’ll be there to see it.

    Anyone else going?

  15. yankeefeminista May 1st, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    “Looking at his splits so far he doesn’t start off well, pitches 1-15 or end well,”

    First inning has always been the tough one for Kuroda since joining the Yanks, but in the past once he has seen what is working, Kuroda’s been able to fine-tune his pitch selection in subsequent innings. The weather at NYS should be in 60′s tonight, so that will hopefully help feel on breaking pitches.

    @Fake Pete could have a field day with this little tidbit:

    “One would think the Sox’s primary motivation in wanting to play a doubleheader on Thursday is to take advantage of the Rays current struggles. But there is also a theory that a Dustin Pedroia bobblehead was part of the issue – that the Sox planned to give them away on Wednesday and if they don’t do so instead for a makeup game on Thursday have no where to store them.”


    Free Dellin!

  16. J. Alfred Prufrock May 1st, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Jonathan asks: Hey Mike, have you noticed any change in Mark Teixeira‘s stance so far? He’s standing up much more straight with less of a crouch and his hands are starting in a lower position.

    I hadn’t noticed anything different until I read Jonathan’s question the other day, so I paid extra attention during Tuesday night’s game against the Mariners. Sure enough, it looks like Teixeira has changed his setup at the plate. To the action GIFs:

  17. yankeefeminista May 1st, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Pruf, tons of cheap seats available; place will probably be fuller than Tuesday’s game, but still pretty empty, I would think.

    I’ll be at Manny B. on Sunday as well. Excited to see him pitch live again!

  18. J. Alfred Prufrock May 1st, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Hard to top Tuesday for “empty”.

    Weather, college still in session, etc.

    Me too on Manuelito

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