Perhaps it was the nerves of transitioning to a new team that got the best of him in the beginning of the year. Or maybe it was just the pressure of playing baseball in the big apple that took some time for him to adjust to. Whatever the case may be, Hiroki Kuroda seems to finally be settling into his role in the Bronx and is currently cruising past opponents, dominating those lineups most recently faced.
When some big time injuries hit the Yankee pitching staff this year, the organization hoped to get bigger contributions from the supporting cast, especially out of newly acquired starter, Hiroki Kuroda.
Initially, it seemed as if Kuroda had some trouble adjusting to the center stage of the baseball world in New York. He opened the season in pinstripes with a horrible outing by getting shelled. He gave up 6 runs and only lasted 5.2 innings the loss. In his second start, he bounced back by going eight innings and giving up zero runs for his first win. This pattern continued for Kuroda, where he’d look awful one game, and come out the next looking totally different and pitching outstanding. He never seemed to find any sort of consistency in his game, that is until now.
Going back to May 27, Kuroda found his groove and has been rolling to a 4-1 record in his last six starts. In those four wins, he’s been lights out, totally shutting down opposing batters. Kuroda has given up two runs or less in each of those starts, two of those outings he dealt shut out performances in. Eight innings of scoreless ball against the Oakland A’s and then kept the scoreboard empty for another seven innings against the crosstown Mets.
During his current streak, Kuroda has maintained excellent command and control, which has allowed him to throw deeper into the game. He’s gone at least seven innings five times during this six-game span. This has been another theme to Kuroda’s season with the Yankees. When he’s pitching well, he provides the Yankees with more work. In his seven wins this season, Kuroda has gone seven innings or longer, exiting earlier only once. But when he’s having an off night, those appearances are much shorter. In Kuroda’s losses, he’s struggled with his control and has had trouble making it past the fifth inning.
With a balanced record of 7-7 and 3.40 ERA on the year now, the Yankees are finally getting what they hoped for out of Kuroda. The entire pitching staff has been on fire throughout the month of June, with one of the lowest ERAs in the MLB, and Kuroda has been a major contributing factor. Less walks, more strikeouts, and longer outings has been the key to Kuroda’s success, and as long as this continues, he will keep cruising past opposing lineups and consistently provide the club with wins.