When Hiroki Kuroda came to the Yankees in the offseason, many thought he would win at least 15 games now that he was coming to a team with a potent offense. As a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda received very limited run support. In four yeas in LA, Kuroda was just 41-46 with a pretty good ERA of 3.45. For the kind of ERA he pitched to, you would have expected Kuroda to win more games. Last year, Kuroda was ninth in the NL with an ERA of 3.07 – he won 13 games while dropping an eye opening 16.
Kuroda finished in the bottom 40 in three of his four years in LA in run support – one year he did not qualify. Last year, Kuroda was 24th worst in the majors, as his offense averaged 5.26 runs per game. In 2010 Kuroda was ranked 38th worst at 6.05 r/g.
You would think that by coming to a team thats been at the top of the league in terms of runs scored the past couple of years would end that trend of poor run support. Well, it hasn’t. So far in 2012, Kuroda is 20th worst with just 4.88 runs of support. Kuroda is 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA overall. To put that into perspective, out of 121 players that are qualified for the stat so far, Ivan Nova is in the top 10 (8.82 r/g) and CC Sabathia 40th (6.72). New York is scoring just 4.58 runs per game in 2012, nearly a whole run less than last year (5.36). The Yankees finished first in three of the last four years in runs scored per game. The only year they didn’t finish first was last year when they finished second to Boston.
So far this year, Kuroda has been sort of Jekyll and Hyde. He’s been good one start, bad the next, decent the next then good again. However, in three of his five total losses, the Yankees have scored one or fewer runs. In the remaining two losses, the Yankees lost by a total of three runs.
With Kuroda scheduled to pitch tonight against the Royals’ Felipe Paulino (weather permitting), it will be interesting to see how the Yankees offense performs. Kuroda has already pitched against the Royals and Paulino this year. In that start, which came on May 5, Kuroda went 4.2 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits, taking the loss. Paulino, in his first start of the season, baffled the Yankees. He went six innings, allowing no runs on four hits while striking out six. Hopefully this time around, the Yankees will have adjusted to Paulino, and will get the bats going for Kuroda.