Hiroki Kuroda had yet another standout performance on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, extending his April success into May and solidifying his role as the anchor of the New York Yankees starting rotation.
Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings in his most recent start, allowing only two hits and effectively ending the Blue Jays’ four-game win streak. This win was Kuroda’s sixth, bringing him to 6-2, as well as bringing his ERA to 1.99 and his WHIP to 0.95.
The right-hander currently leads the Yankee starters in all three categories, and his quality starts every five days are one of the reasons the Yankees have stayed afloat amidst all their injuries.
When Kuroda was acquired by the Yankees for the 2012 season, it was easy to be skeptical of the signing at first. The Yankees have a history of signing dominant National League pitchers who are rendered ineffective by the American League lineups and the pinstripes (Randy Johnson, Javy Vasquez to name a couple).
But Kuroda showed no signs of weakness moving from the NL West to the AL East and had a successful first year with the Yanks. He won 16 games with a 3.32 ERA and pitched well in the postseason as well, posting a 2.81 ERA.
It was smart of the Yankees to re-sign Kuroda to another one year deal during the offseason, and with the way he is pitching now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kuroda stayed a Yankee for longer. His mix of pitches has never been better: he is locating his slider and his fastball, and his sinker is still able to induce groundouts.
While C.C. Sabathia is commonly thought of as the leader of the Yankees pitching staff (or at least his contract is), it is Kuroda who has been leading the way for the Yankees’ rotation. Though Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Andy Pettitte have all been solid starters thus far, their seasons have already seen ups and downs and they have had some very off nights.
Kuroda, after his initial two starts, has been consistent and reliable, as his six wins and impressive numbers show.
When star offensive players go on the disabled list, there is more pressure put on the pitchers to help maintain leads and give their team every advantage possible. So far, the Yankees’ pitchers have been helping, but Kuroda has gone above and beyond.
Holly Berkowitz is a New York Yankees writer for rantsports.com. Follow her on Twitter @hollyberry9118.