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The title of the post tells you the whole story. No underlying storylines here, no projections or predictions, or trying to figure out what it may mean for the future. This is just some straight up, good old-fashioned appreciation of what Hiroki Kuroda has done this season and recognition of how badass he is.
Kuroda has been the unquestioned best starting pitcher on the staff this year. After last night, he now leads all Yankee starters (with 10 starts or more) in ERA (2.38), FIP (3.38), BB rate (4.9%), K/BB (3.67), WHIP (1.03), strand rate (83.7%), wins (10), and fWAR (3.0). He's second in IP (139.2) and strikeouts (99) and the innings count is really only because Joe doesn't seem to have it in him to take CC out early when he's pitching like crap. Kuroda has officially become the ace of this staff.
Just for more Hirok slurpage, dig on this:
- Kuroda has allowed 0 runs in 4 of his last 5 starts. In the one start when he did allow runs, he gave up 2 in 7 innings.
- 12 of Kuroda's 22 starts this year have been 7 IP or more and 2 ER allowed or less.
- 7 of those 12 starts have been scoreless.
- Kuroda has given up more than 4 R in a start just once in 2013.
- He's given up more than 3 just 3 times.
- He's walked more than 2 batters in a start 3 times.
- He hasn't walked more than 3 batters in a start since June 7th
- In his last 3 starts, he's outdueled Clayton Kershaw, Derek Holland, and John Lackey. Not bad company at all.
It'd be easy to chalk some of this up to luck based on Kuroda's .255 BABIP. But when you watch him pitch and watch the weak contact he generates with his sinker/slider/splitter combo, suddenly that BABIP looks about right. When he's locating his 4-seamer on the corners with those pitches working, he's almost impossible to square up, and he's made a lot of good hitters look really bad.
He sounded like he leaning towards this being his last year in the states before he returned to Japan to play when he signed his 1-year deal. At age 38, he's pitching better than he ever has and there's no reason to not continue in MLB. If Hirok does decide he wants to go 1 more year after this season, the Yankees should not hesitate for a second to re-sign him.