Does Hiroki Kuroda put the Yankees over the top?

14 Jan

After doing next to nothing regarding acquiring new talent over the winter, the Yankees made a big splash doing what no one saw coming and to a degree thought possible. Picking up Michael Pineda and his fastball that hits 100mph when he’s grooving was not the surprise – although his name had yet to pop up on the Yankee radar publicly. No, the big news was spiriting away Hiroki Kuroda on a one year $10m deal when everyone seemed convinced he would only pitch in LA or go back to Japan. While the Yankees have had problems with NPL pitchers before (Irabu and Igawa most notably), Kuroda is a bit different.

While we get what some critics of the deal say pointing out that Kuroda hasn’t been a big winner, we counter with he was in LA. Joe Torre is not known for handling pitchers well, and although we love Don Mattingly he isn’t either. Add to that the fact that the Dodgers have flat out stunk and been mired in off field controversy and it’s amazing they got 25 guys into matching clothes much less won any games. Kuroda is a legitimate starter.

Kuroda can go 200 innings – something that will come easier when not being lifted for pinch hitters way too early because he’s playing in the NL and a manager that panics about offense too much too early. In Mattingly’s defense though, with the team he’s had, offense was a reason to panic before the first pitch. What Kuroda brings to the table is a strong, reliable #2 starter with an ERA around 3.00. That will go up in the AL East, but so too will his run support by nearly a 65% increase. That is significant enough to feel good about the deal.

Suddenly Burnett is coming in as a more comfortable #3 starter with Hughes and Nova likely to hold down the #4 and #5 spots. That makes Garcia the odd man out as the long man/spot starter, but that may work out well. There are always injuries and if this year is like last, scheduling problems due to the weather where an extra arm that can deliver 5 quality innings is a huge plus.

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