Perhaps the number one in the rotation next year should be Hiroki Kuroda instead of CC Sabathia. In 2012, Sabathia has looked rough and two stints on the disabled list have not been favorable to him by any stretch of the imagination. Not only should Kuroda perhaps at least be considered the number one, but must be re-signed in order for that to happen. Kuroda has shown the New York Yankees everything they wanted to see out of him and even though he’s been tagged for a few runs in his last four appearances, he’s still kept the Bombers in games. We’ve all known that September is a huge month for the Yanks as the lead they have in the AL East is by no means an assured thing anymore. Kuroda has been a huge part of the success and in some instances, has also been the victim of poor run support. With the way the rotation is now, Kuroda looks to be the only starter the Yankees can consistently rely upon.
For his career, Kuroda has been the breakaway from the string of struggling Japanese pitchers. The only thing that has negatively affected him, really isn’t his fault in the end. In 2008, his first year in the United States, Kuroda was an eight game winner with a 3.73 ERA. He’s always been a victim of the lack of run support. The Yankees should be the exception to that rule, but with the offense all scrambled up and only relying on Derek Jeter to get anything done, Kuroda has suffered some tough losses and no-decisions.
Even Kuroda’s age doesn’t factor in to the way he pitches. In his last seven starts, Kuroda has pitched one game complete game, another game into the ninth and two others with completed eighth innings. While in those starts he’s been tagged for three to four runs, this is really the only time in the season where this has happened to him. Looking back at really May until now, Kuroda has been dominant despite some rough starts here and there. His 3.26 ERA in 2012 is the best out of any starter on the team thus far and he’s definitely earned his 14 wins.
What’s also great about Kuroda is that his strikeout-to-walk ratio is also up in 2012 at 3.50. This is the highest it has been in his short MLB career aside from 2009 when it was 3.63. His 1.116 WHIP this season is also the lowest it’s ever been in his career. Taking Sunday’s start against the Tampa Bay Rays for example, Kuroda had struck out seven batters by the third inning and his stuff was just electric like it has been all season. His hits allowed total (181) isn’t as high as last year (196) and he’s definitely going to surpass the 202 innings pitched last year as he’s currently at 201.
The last stat out of many that needs to have some light shed on it is his WAR. Now for pitchers, WAR is such a weird stat considering they don’t play everyday. However, when they do have their starts, it can affect the team in a whole lot of ways. Kuroda’s WAR in 2012 is 5.0, which is by far the highest in his career. His 2012 WAR easily surpasses his 2010 WAR of 3.3, which was the highest until this season.
So maybe the Yankees won’t even have to wait until the offseason to show Kuroda how much he means. What I’m getting at is this, if Sabathia continues to look sluggish out on the mound, then Kuroda is by far the number one in the postseason rotation. There’s no reason as to why even now that he should be out of the talks for that spot.
Now Kuroda has arbitration eligibility for 2013 and will probably want a little more money. I say the Yankees pay the man. They saw how good of a pitcher he was in the National League and for him to come over to not only the American League, but the toughest division in baseball and continue to dominate? Now, that’s a man who has earned every cent.