MLB New York Yankees

Hiroki Kuroda Must Keep Pitching Well In Order For New York Yankees to Contend

Hiroki Kuroda

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Man do the New York Yankees need their starting rotation to step up big time.

Luckily for the team, Hiroki Kuroda decided to have a strong outing for the team Wednesday night.

The Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3, taking a game from the division-leading Blue Jays, who are one of the hottest teams in the MLB right now.

Kuroda was excellent throughout, only allowing three runs in 6.1 innings pitched for the Yankees. Even though Kuroda only struck out four batters, his control was decent throughout, showing a great mix of pitches as well as keeping a lot of them in the strike zone (63 strikes out of 102 total pitches). Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera gave Kuroda a little trouble (5-for-9 with 3 RBIs), but both of those are great hitters, and will get theirs from time to time. Kuroda stayed poised and confident and took care of the rest of the lineup, which is exactly what a veteran pitcher who has been in this spot before is supposed to do.

If Kuroda, who is currently 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA on the season, can turn it around for the Yankees, it only helps the team in the long haul. C.C. Sabathia and Michael Pineda have dealt with injuries at this point in the season, and the rest of the team’s starters, including David Phelps and Vidal Nuno, have failed to live up to expectations that New York places on all of its players. Only Masahiro Tanaka has been stellar, which is disappointing considering the years that Kuroda and Sabathia have put together over the years. Unfortunately, the Yankees cannot help if most of their rotation is out due to injury. The only thing the team can do is consistently score runs and put pressure on the opposing staff by putting as many men on base as possible, be it through drawing walks or playing small ball. However, the Yankees’ offense has been subject to a lot of outbursts and duds this season, leading to inconsistency even among the team’s top hitters.

Derek Jeter is not the same player he was even three years ago. Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran have struggled in their own regard, and Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts are struggling to put together strings of games at times due to their age. The offense certainly has veteran talent that can hit, but a championship team is able to both hit and pitch, not just one or the other.

Getting Kuroda to return to his dominant form will solve part of the puzzle, as the team should have three capable pitchers with Sabathia likely returning after the All-Star break. If Sabathia, Kuroda and Tanaka can put together strings of great outings, then that could take some pressure off of the offense and give those players a little room to breathe in order to get their minds right.

The Yankees are still perfectly capable of putting together a solid run to a championship, but baseball is not a one-man show. It takes a team to win a championship, and hopefully Kuroda’s solid outing against the Blue Jays is one step closer to having another guy back on board for the long haul.

Nathan Grubel is a contributing writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @The_Only_Grubes, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.