Kuroda makes a month-long statement

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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.

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  • Bran

    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-

    Andy
    Kuroda
    Hughes
    Nova

    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

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

      • eephus_pitch

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

      • RetroRob

        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.

        • the Other Steve S.

          Bran is not a name. It’s a muffin. Hence she is a chick.

    • BK2ATL

      Incredible.

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

    • MattG

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

      Andy
      Kuroda
      Hughes
      Nova
      Freddy
      Rapada
      Betances
      Boomer (Thunder mascot)
      Kit Keller
      Carlston Charles

      • LiterallyFigurative

        Vidal Nuno>>>>>>CC

      • the Other Steve S.

        What? No Swisher?

    • Improvident Lackwit

      Wow, this is A+ troll work.

      • thenamestsam

        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

      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.

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

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

    • jjyank

      Haha +1

  • nsalem

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

  • BK2ATL

    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.

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      Everybody talks about these veteran presents…yet I haven’t gotten any. I feel left out :(

      • BK2ATL

        You’re not old enough yet…..young buck.

        Maybe we should sign Jamie Moyer to a AA deal while we’re at it.

  • pat

    I believe it’s Moustakaii.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Meesetakas.

  • Betty Lizard

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

    • jjyank

      And he’s also buddies with Martin :P

      • Betty Lizard

        Just trying to reduce that six degrees . . .

  • LiterallyFigurative

    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.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

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

    /Cliff Lee

    • nsalem

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

      • Now Batting

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

        • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

          His teammates are too old.

        • pat

          Didn’t pitch to the final score.

          • Jack Morris

            I would have ten wins already if I was on the Phillies.

          • nsalem

            I hope this “dry spell” does not extend to Cliff and Mrs Lee’s personal life. That would be just terrible.

        • nsalem

          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.

          • RetroRob

            I’ll be more than happy for an 0-24 season. One loss for every million he’ll earn this year.