The month of June was a roller coaster ride for Hiroki Kuroda. One game he looked dominant, and the next game it looked like he had no control over his pitches. Regardless, he has put up some decent numbers in June, and has given the Yankees a chance to win every time he has taken the mound.
Some good signs that were seen from Kuroda during this month, is that batters were hitting the ball less with hard contact. Prior to last night’s game, he has a line drive rate of 18 percent during this month. Continuing to decrease this number will be key because some of that hard contact could lead to runs.
He also has developed his splitter immensely. Opponents have zero hits in 17 at-bats against this specific pitch in the month of June. If he continues to use his splitter with the bite that he has on it, he is going to get a lot more ground balls and strikeouts.
There are a couple things to look out for in Kuroda that may be concerning as the season progresses. His walk rate in June has doubled from the first two months of the season, and his strikeout rate has decreased. We are used to seeing him dominate batters, but hitters are starting to figure him out, which has made his work harder on the mound. Velocity could also be something that he needs to be improved upon to be the pitcher that he’s used to being.
Kuroda ended his last start of the month on a high note, as he led the Yankees to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays last night. If he continues to work on that splitter, he will be right back up there in the mixed discussion of dominating pitchers to watch.