When the news came out on that infamous Friday in January that the Yankees had made a deal for right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to come and pitch in New York, a lot of people were skeptical about the move.
They wondered, how Kuroda would handle the transition from the National League to the American League? How, or more to the point, would he be able to adjust to pitching to the batters in the big, bad American League East Division? And the question that was asked the most was how would he pitch in Yankee Stadium?
People automatically assume that pitchers will just start giving up tons of home runs because of the Yankee Stadium “jet stream.”
And some do but that hasn’t been the case with Kuroda.
In fact, Kuroda thrives in Yankee Stadium. Take his last two starts for instance: a two-hit, complete game shutout against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday and an eight inning, one-run, four-hit performance last night against the Boston Red Sox.
Let’s go one step further, the Yankees played a series against the Seattle Mariners in the beginning of the month. Kuroda had the misfortune of being matched up against Felix Hernandez on August 4. While Hernandez pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout, Kuroda also had himself a good game. He pitched 6.1 innings, gave up one-run on seven hits and struck out four. On that day he was 10-8 with a 3.19 ERA.
Thanks to the aforementioned games against Texas and Boston, Kuroda is now 12-8 on the year (I know, W-L doesn’t mean anything) and he’s lowered his ERA to 2.96. Again, I realize ERA is also a stat the smart people don’t pay that much attention to anymore but for argument’s sake let’s mention it because he now leads the Yankees starters in ERA. And thanks to his performances of late, that number keeps dropping.
Some more numbers:
- Opposing batters have an overall line of .210/.260/.329 against Kuroda this year at the Stadium/
- He’s allowed only 79 hits in 377 at bats.
- He’s only given up eight home runs – six to left-handed batters and two to righties.
- His best month at home was June: He held opponents to a .155/.219/.227 line while striking out 31 and only allowing 15 hits.
- He has the best luck getting the number two batter out in the lineup, holding them to a .146/.180/.188 line while having a teensy bit of trouble with the number seven batter. Their line is .289/.341/.395.
So what does this all mean? It means Kuroda was a great acquisition for the Yankees. He’s quietly become the staff’s ace while CC Sabathia has been battling injuries and he’s become the pitcher you expect to keep the other team’s batters off the bases.
More importantly, he has adjusted to pitching in New York just fine and he has been a pleasure to watch.
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