Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking for a Hiro? Yanks Look Like They've Found One

That's Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees starting pitcher, being congratulated by catcher Russell Martin after a complete game, 2-hit, 17-groundout, 109-pitch, 2-hour-and-35-minute shutout masterpiece. And he did it against the Texas Rangers, arguably the best offensive team in baseball.

After a solid, but not stellar career in Japan (103-89 in 10 seasons), Kuroda went to the Dodgers for 3 years. He had flashes of brilliance - a near perfect game against the Braves in 2008, but for the most part he's been a modest MLB starter.

2008    9-10, 3.73
2009     8-7, 3.76
2010   11-13, 3.39
2011   13-16, 3.07

Not too bad. He's an innings eater with a much better than average ERA, but the Yankees took a chance on him anyway as their #2 starter. It didn't look good at first. Through 9 starts, Kuroda was 3-6, 4.56. But the Yankees stuck by their investment and it has been a dream.

In his last 15 starts, he's 8-2 with a 2.30. And he's gone 7+ innings in 11 of the 15 starts in the heat of summer, and is one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL.

Now Kuroda's innings and presence are magnified with C.C. Sabathia headed to the DL for a second time this year. How do you say "ace" in Japanese?

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