How Hiroki Kuroda Continues to Thrive at Hitter-Friendly Yankee Stadium
If you haven't noticed, Hiroki Kuroda has been simply dominant at Yankee Stadium this year.
He's gone 7-2 with a 1.44 ERA and 51 strikeouts for the New York Yankees, having given up three earned runs only twice in 11 starts. In the other nine starts, he's allowed two runs or less, including no earned runs in his last three home starts.
But how does Kuroda continue to thrive? After all, Yankee Stadium has a 1.152 home run factor and 1.017 runs factor, according to ESPN's MLB Park Factors.
What makes Kuroda successful?
When looking at Kuroda's game log, the biggest thing that jumps out about his home starts is that he's barely walking anyone.
The last time he walked more than two batters at Yankee Stadium was on April 30 against the Houston Astros. Since then, he's had six of his seven home starts that have seen him walk one or none.
In his Monday start against the Los Angeles Angels, Kuroda also did a good job at keeping the ball on the ground when it was put into play. Of the 17 outs on balls in play, 12 were via the ground ball. His previous two starts at home saw a 50-50 ratio of fly ball/ground ball outs.
For a park that is generally a hitter's paradise, keeping the ball out of the air is the key.
If you go back and look through his game log, look at the final score of the home games Kuroda has pitched in.
In fact, out of his 11 home starts, only one time have the Yankees won Kuroda's start by more than three runs. In six of the starts, the result has been a one or two run difference.
For some pitchers, those types of games seem to be where they thrive the most.
Kuroda has thrived in that setting, due in large part to the struggles of the Yankees offense this year. Even on the road, Kuroda has started games where the final margin was three or less run 13 times.
Every time Kuroda pitches, it seems like he's in a pitcher's duel.
Hiroki Kuroda held opponent scoreless for 5th time in his last 7 starts, has an @MLB-high 9 scoreless starts overall this season.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 13, 2013
It's Just the Type of Pitcher He Is
Too many times fans get caught up in a name like CC Sabathia to really notice a guy like Kuroda.
The fact of the matter is, Kuroda goes quietly about his business and doesn't get the recognition he deserves.
With big names like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Mariano Rivera, Sabathia and many more, Kuroda's name gets lost.
However, if the Yankees were to go on a run and make the playoffs, Kuroda should deserve a lot of the credit.
As the team has struggled throughout the year, he's been the most consistent player on the roster.
In fact, I'd go as far as to say he's been the most consistent pitcher in all of baseball...even more than Max Scherzer.
Scherzer has gotten run support all year and been able to work with a comfortable lead. Only 11 of Scherzer's 23 games have seen the final margins within three runs. And only one of those five of those starts did he get three runs or less of support.
It's time to give credit where credit is due.
Kuroda has been New York's ace all year. His numbers prove it.
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