New York Yankees: 5 Reasons Hiroki Kuroda Is Important to Yanks' Success
The addition of Hiroki Kuroda to the New York Yankees' starting rotation for 2012 was a big one for the Bombers.
With his experience and past success with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda will be the second in command for the Yanks rotation behind ace CC Sabathia.
Kuroda's importance to this team and their success is pretty apparent for the upcoming season.
Here are five reasons why Kuroda's success is the key to the Yankees' success in 2012.
A Second Stopper
CC Sabathia might be the stopper of this rotation, but not even the big guy can get it done every fifth day. So that's where a consistent No. 2 starter is important.
If Sabathia has two or three bad starts in a row, Kuroda can become that stopper until CC gets back on his feet. After all, Sabathia is human and even some of the best pitchers go through bad stretches.
Having a guy behind Sabathia who is almost as dependable as the ace, makes it tough to imagine the Yankees going on any long losing streaks anytime soon—as if it wasn't hard enough already with the team they have.
After Sabathia and Kuroda, the Yankees will have their younger guns filling out the rotation with Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Phil Hughes. The rotation, according to Joe Girardi himself, might not be set yet, but you have to imagine that is the direction the Bombers will go barring something unforeseen.
That being said, it's expected that younger pitchers like Nova and Pineda will go through some growing pains during their sophomore seasons. And despite a ton of promise, there is no telling what the Yanks will get out of Hughes this year.
Kuroda has the experience that can offset lackluster pitching from some of the rotation's younger pitchers. And although I expect very strong seasons from the Yanks' younger arms, the unpredictability of sophomore seasons and Hughes, makes it nice that New York has a veteran insurance policy like Kuroda.
AL East Matchups
For Boston: Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.
For Tampa Bay: David Price and James Shields.
Those are two very good 1-2 combinations for both the Yanks' biggest division rivals and the teams they will be competing against for the AL East crown in 2012.
Although the Bombers have equally good, if not better, rotation depth, it remains to be seen if Kuroda can help the Yankees match the type of front-end strength that both those teams have.
If he can, it will only mean more success and surely another AL East crown or wild-card berth for New York this season.
Ask any manager in baseball and they will tell you rotation depth is important.
As I've mentioned before, the Yanks rotation has great depth, which means the Bombers will be sending out a pitcher to the mound who can help them win every single game.
No more A.J. Burnetts to dread taking the mound every fifth day.
While the Michael Pineda trade and the signing of Freddy Garcia before that gave the Yanks sufficient depth, adding Kuroda gave them unimagineable depth and a veteran presence in what was otherwise an inexperienced rotation.
And Garcia, who could become the Yanks' long man, would normally be a starter on any other team in baseball. But for the Yanks, he'll be relegated to the bullpen.
Now that's depth.
With the addition of Kuroda, the Bombers now have one of the deepest rotations in MLB, hands down.
If you want to have success in the playoffs, most times you need an ace at the front end of your rotation to do so. But if you have strong starters at the front of a rotation going into a playoff series, then that team can be very tough to beat.
It remains to be seen if Kuroda will be that type of dominant No. 2, but in two playoff starts in 2008, Kuroda was 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA. If he can pitch like that, the Yanks will be very tough to beat when combined with a great Sabathia start the game before.
If both pitchers can put up numbers similar to those they have in the past, a combination of Sabathia and Kuroda can easily match up with any 1-2 punch in baseball. That fact alone will make the Bombers major players in October.