Kuroda makes a month-long statement


No matter his performance, Kuroda always displays an A+ pitchface. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Why did fans label Hiroki Kuroda as an inconsistent pitcher? Mike and I discussed this on The RAB Radio Show last week, but it bears further mention. It seems that after poor starts mixed with some very good ones, fans started to call Kuroda inconsistent. This persisted while his numbers and performances improved following his poor outing against the Twins, and it gained further steam with his implosion against Toronto. But perhaps inconsistent wasn’t the best term.

While Kuroda did turn in some phenomenal performances early on, overall he had not pitched that well. Though his first nine starts he threw just 53.1 innings, or a hair under six per start. In that time his ERA was a bit over 4.50, and opponents were hitting .281/.345/.481 off him. His strikeout rate was under 6 per nine, and he had a K/BB ratio of less than 2:1. Those are not the marks of a quality pitcher, never mind the guy expected to be the No. 2 for the Yankees.

In Oakland things started to turn around. On May 27th he pitched eight innings of shutout ball, leading the Yankees to a 2-0 victory. That might not seem like much, shutting out the A’s. Keep in mind, though, that they have scored more runs than any other AL team in June. So Kuroda got to them just as they were heating up. After that he turned in another three excellent starts before giving up four runs against the Braves — the first time he’d done that in over a month. Last night he redeemed himself, though, allowing just one run in seven innings against the Indians.

In the last month Kuroda has started six times, averaging seven innings per start. He has struck out 7.5 per nine and has a K/BB ratio of 3.5:1. His ERA is just 1.93, and opponents have a .589 OPS against him. That is, they’ve gone from being nine Mike Moustakases to being nine Sean Rodriguezes. Might the first nine starts of his season been an introduction to the American League, and we’ll start to see more of this Kuroda in the future?

While I’d love to believe that, there are problems with that statement. He has, for instance, faced two National League teams during that span, covering three games. They weren’t bad NL teams, not at all — the Braves rank third in runs per game and sixth in OPS, while the Mets rank fifth in runs per game and eighth in OPS. But the competition is simply different, as evidenced by the AL’s dominance over the NL in interleague play (142-110). At the same time, the Indians rank 11th in the AL in OPS, while the A’s, while hot in June, rank dead last.

The last month has certainly been a revelation for Kuroda. He is a big reason why the Yankees have gone 17-5 in June. Going forward, though, it’s tough to expect such stellar performances. That’s a pretty obvious statement, of course, since few pitchers today can sustain a 1.93 ERA. Unfortunately, any dip from here could again raise the accusations of inconsistency. It’s not that, though. Every pitcher goes through stretches. The only real complaints about Kuroda will come when the bad stretches start to outweigh the good.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Bran says:

    He needs to be consistently good. If he has a bad month after a good month he will continue to be called inconsistent. Right now he’s my #2 in the playoffs. Playoff rotation-


    This is just right now so it definitely could change. CC is by far the weakest link. Watching him slog through games is painful. He was given a decent lead vs an NL offense on Sunday night and he failed to hold it. If you’re going to call yourself the ace then pitch like the ace, not the #5.

    • nsalem says:

      This is an extremely intelligent post. It seems you put much thought into it . Hughes starting over CC is a wonderful idea.

      • eephus_pitch says:

        CC has been pretty bad in the playoffs of late, but that proposed pitching rotation is just foolish.

      • RetroRob says:

        I’ve discoved intelligence is in short order in a high percentage of first posts in every new thread. Rarely regulars, just some unrecognizable first-name-only male poster.

    • BK2ATL says:


      Didn’t your #1 just get lit up by the Mets for 5 runs???

    • MattG says:

      You left off a few. Here’s my playoff rotation:

      Boomer (Thunder mascot)
      Kit Keller
      Carlston Charles

    • Improvident Lackwit says:

      Wow, this is A+ troll work.

      • thenamestsam says:

        See I thought it was a pretty poor effort. He went too far, and because of that the comments seem to recognize that he’s a troll, either by mocking the post or explicitly calling it out as trolling like you did. No one is really taking it seriously. That’s just mediocre trolling.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Holy god, this is an entirely new rock level of stupid. Someone could film a PBS special on this. Get David Attenborough on the phone.

  2. Nine Sean Rodriguezes?! IBB THEM ALL!!!!!!-Joe Girardi

  3. nsalem says:

    This is an extremely intelligent post. It seems you put much thought into it . Hughes starting over CC is a wonderful idea.

  4. BK2ATL says:

    While there’s still a lot of season left to be played, Kuroda has pitched very well for us recently. I’m hoping that he keeps it up and continues to stabilize the the rotation behind CC and ahead of Pettitte, Nova and Hughes.

    It’s apparent that he knows what he’s doing on the mound and in each situation. Even moreso, he doesn’t get flustered and appears to enjoy pitching for the Yankees. He also gives quality length in his starts, which allows the offense to stay in games, and bullpen just short work.

    Something about having those veteran presents. October and November, here we come.

  5. pat says:

    I believe it’s Moustakaii.

  6. Betty Lizard says:

    I really really really like Kuroda, who is composed, elegant and efficient in his pitching.

  7. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Pitching well against NL teams and all non-Red Sox/Rangers/Tigers/Angels lineups doesn’t ACTUALLY count, as the players for the 25 other teams are semi-pro and are paid in Monopoly money.

  8. DJ4K&Monterowasdinero says:

    10M for 7-7…much better than my 23M for 0-whatever.

    /Cliff Lee

    • nsalem says:

      How much are the Phillies paying Lee per win so far?

      • Now Batting says:

        Wins….guy threw ten innings of shutout ball and got a no decision.

        • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero says:

          His teammates are too old.

        • pat says:

          Didn’t pitch to the final score.

        • nsalem says:

          He’s pitching just good enough to lose. In that particular game (vs Matt Cain) it was good enough not to win. He is a National League pitcher though and he did have two at bats in that game so he had some control over his fate. I feel so bad for poor Cliff, what a terrible position he is in. I’m sure like me, most Yankee feel his pain and are rooting for this terrible win draught to come to an end. We are compassionate people who are not the least bit amused by failures.

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