While one Japanese starting pitcher for the Bronx Bombers is thriving, the other is on a downward spiral. Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ number two starter has been a little shaky to start the season. This definitely showed when the visiting Los Angeles Angles tagged Kuroda with 8 runs, 6 earned in 4 2/3 innings. Kuroda’s ERA is now a whopping 5. 28 after that rough start. This was not the only shaky start Kuroda has had so far this year. The start prior to the Angles, was against the Tampa Bay Rays. He went 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs. However, he battled through trouble for the majority of the outing.
So what seems to be the problem? For Kuroda, who is an aging starting pitcher, it has been his control. The command of his pitches has not been what it used to be in past years. The one pitch that has plagued Kuroda so far is his go-to pitch, the slider. This has been Kuroda’s out pitch for years now. However, when he is not throwing it for a strike, problems arise and he must rely on secondary pitches which are not as strong.
Kuroda uses the slider as a swing and miss pitch and a pitch to create weak contact. Hitters usually role over his slider. The main problem is not the pitch itself, it is the fact that Kuroda has not thrown it as much. This points toward a loss in faith with the pitch. Kuroda does not seem confident enough to throw the pitch. If Kuroda wants to continue as the Yankees’ number two starter, he must improve his command and be confident with his stuff.