Kuroda thriving despite lack of run support


(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

I think it’s safe to say that outside of Derek Jeter‘s return to offensive stardom, the biggest story of the season for the Yankees has been Hiroki Kuroda‘s legitimate ace-level performance. The 37-year-old right-hander led his club to another win last night, the ninth time in his last eleven starts New York came out on top. Only once in his last seven starts and four times in his last 16 starts has he allowed more than two earned runs. He’s been brilliant.

Despite playing for the team with the second-best offense in the league (4.93 runs per game), Kuroda has done all of this despite limited run support. Last night was the the sixth straight time the offense scored no more than four runs for their right-hander, and the 16th time they’ve done it in his 25 starts overall. Following last night’s win, Kuroda ranks eighth in the AL with an average of 3.84 runs of support per start. He’s tied with Felix Hernandez, who hardly plays for an offensive juggernaut.

That 3.84 run support average breaks down into 96 runs across 25 starts, compared to 501 total runs in the 96 games started by everyone else this year. That’s an average of 5.22 runs per game. For whatever reason, the Yankees are scoring one and a third fewer runs per game with Kuroda on the mound this season than they are with anyone else out there. The last time New York had a starter finish the season with fewer than even 4.30 runs of support (min. 25 starts) was Mike Mussina back in 2001 (4.12). Bartolo Colon received the club’s worst run support last season at 4.50 runs per game.

Now this is just a fluke and not really indicative of anything meaningful. Maybe the Yankees feel like they don’t need to score a million runs with Kuroda on the mound, but that seems kinda silly. Five times this year the Yankees have lost a game in which he’s allowed no more than two earned runs, which is about five too many as far as I’m concerned. Hiroki just ran into a hard-luck year in terms of run support, but he’s pitched so well that it hasn’t even mattered most of the time. It would be nice if the Yankees put up some crooked numbers for him in the coming weeks just to give him some breathing room, because Kuroda sure has picked his teammates up a number of times this summer. Time to return the favor a bit.

Categories : Offense
  • jjyank

    It’s gotta just be random, I can’t believe that the line up doesn’t want to score runs. Thankfully Kuroda has been so awesome that it hasn’t been a big deal, and hopefully he is due for some glorious correction.

  • Mike Myers

    Roger Clemens just signed with an independent league….looks like we have a new #3 next year…

    • RetroRob

      Eppley replacement!

      The Astros are so bad, he probably could make their rotation next year.

  • CountryClub

    Jeter’s return to “offensive stardom” happened last yr. He’s just kept the ball rolling this season.

    I thought Kuroda would be pretty good. But he’s exceeded my expectaions.

    • jjyank

      Sort of. There was some tangible evidence to suggest that Jeter’s second half surge last year was more than a mere hot streak, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. Hopeful, but not convinced.

      Repeating that and doing over a full season is more of a resurgence in my eyes.

    • Heisenberg’s Hat

      Jeter hit 6 homeruns last year and had an OPS+ of 99. Cool your jets.

  • Eddard

    All the more reason why Hiroki Kuroda deserves serious consideration for the Cy Young award. The trend was set by Felix last year. CC has been on the DL twice. Andy was lost for 2-3 months. Hiroki steps right in as staff ace for the team with the best record in the AL. If I were casting my vote today for AL Cy Young it would be for Hiroki Kuroda.

    • The Real Greg

      The problem is that Kuroda doesn’t lead in any major statistical category, including the sabermetrics. He is 3rd in pitching WAR and 7th in WHIP.

      • Get Phelps Up

        You think the BBWAA will look at those?

        • The Real Greg

          The selection of Felix Hernandez 2 years ago suggests they will

          • Get Phelps Up

            And right now, there’s no reason to think that’s not the exception.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting

            Not necessarily. They may have just put a bigger emphasis on ERA, K’s, and IP. Their were plenty of non-sabermetric reasons to vote for Felix that year. There’s really no way of knowing exactly what voters were considering.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting


            • The Real Greg

              And even in those categories, Kuroda is not leading in them

              • Need Pitching & Hitting

                Not saying he should get Cy Young. I’d pick Verlander, Price, and Felix ahead of him. I’m just pointing out that the voters who picked Felix 2 years ago weren’t necessarily basing the decision on sabermetrics. I would guess that most weren’t.

  • RetroRob

    Yup, random. Not to mention, running into Darvish when he pitched his best game as a pro, or King Felix who pitched like, well, King Felix, has contributed to his low run support.

  • CS Yankee

    He never really got the run support as a Dodger either.

    Some guys have all the good luck (Black Jack McDowell, Clemens, Beckett) & some get all the bad luck (King Felix, MyKuroda).

    Only question is, can an Asian be called “a gamer” or do we need to use the term “trooper’; I would like to call him ” A gamer” that but don’t know if that is the correct usage? I recall someone a few years ago calling Gardner “an athlete”, instead of using the term “grit”, and they were slammed.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    IIRC, you recommended acquiring him as early as 2010 trade deadline. Props.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    That 3.84 run support average breaks down into 96 runs across 25 starts, compared to 501 total runs in the 96 games started by everyone else this year. That’s an average of 5.22 runs per game. For whatever reason, the Yankees are scoring one and a third fewer runs per game with Kuroda on the mound this season than they are with anyone else out there.

    So you’re saying the Yankees should just skip Kuroda’s starts, right? :-)

  • Scott Boras

    No Mike. The reason for Kurodas suces has been the trade for Ichiro. Ever since Cahman got Ichi into the Big Aple, Kuroda has 1.88 ERA. Now whos making fun of emotional support huh?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Yeah, he just needed a friend on the team.

    • Erica



  • RetroRob

    Maybe the Yankees can sign Clemens to replace Michael Pineda, who was arrested on a DUI this morning in Florida.

    Yankees don’t like these type of things.

    • The Real Greg

      AS long as he didn’t get into a fight like Brien Taylor, he’ll stay.

      • Paul VuvuZuvella

        Taylor stayed well after that fight and only got cut when he showed he had nothing left.

    • Stan the Man

      Pineda could have gone Jim Leyritz in Fl and that wouldn’t give up on him, they got him for a specific reason and gave up a top prospect. He will get plenty of opportunities to rehab and contribute.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Clemens was reportedly hitting 87 MPH on the gun at age 50. That’s almost as impressive as Darrell Green running a 4.4 40 yard dash at age 50.

      Pineda on the other hand is just a moron. DUI at 2:30 am when he’s supposed to rehabbing his shoulder. He’s on his way to becoming a latter day Pavano.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Being the number two for the Yankees, he usually draws the other team’s number one two or three. That might explain the poor run support. Even Becket who has been a poor performer this year came out and pitched a relatively good game.

  • Freddy’s Mom

    I wonder if run support is factored into the Cy Young voting? I’d like to see what Verlander’s run support is, for instance.

  • http://franklance godfather

    kuroda’s start in the al east wasn’t all that smooth, but the way he adjusted to it is truly professional; his work ethic is admirable and he has quietly put together an effective career while some countrymen of his have gotten the ink…a consummate pro, this one