With a little help from his defense, Kuroda let the Chicago White Sox take their first lead on Friday night. After errors by Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts cut the Yanks' lead from 3-0 to 3-2, Kuroda allowed a two-run bomb to Alexei Ramirez to make it 4-3 Chicago and was pulled before making it out of the fifth inning after Paul Konerko's single that followed.
When it was all said and done, Kuroda had allowed eight hits, two earned runs and needed 100 pitches just to have an opportunity to get through five, all the while getting himself in and out of numerous jams.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 24, 2014
Kuroda's fall from the top spot in the Yanks' rotation isn't just because of Masahiro Tanaka, but rather because he has been inconsistent and does not look like the same pitcher he was in 2013.
That was when Kuroda was the workhorse of the Yanks' staff. He gave the Bronx Bombers length in games when almost no other starter would and he pitched to a 3.31 ERA, which was one point lower than his 3.32 ERA from 2012. It seems he just isn't having the same effect on hitters that he's enjoyed while playing in the states and is allowing more hits and needing more pitches to get through innings.
His ERA is a horrid 4.55 and he's failed to make it out of the fifth inning twice already, as compared to last season when he had the same total. Granted, both of Kuroda's starts that were less than five innings in 2013 happened in the first two months of the season like in 2014, but he was pitching to a 2.39 ERA when May ended, so expect to see more games where he doesn't make it through five.
If his downfall continues, we shouldn't really be surprised by it. In fact, it started at the end of 2013 and has continued into this campaign.
Kuroda is 39 years old and has a bunch of innings on that arm with 1,179 from Major League Baseball and about 1,697 from pitching in Japan. In total, Kuroda has pitched almost 2,900 innings for his career, which is right around the career danger zone of 3,000 innings pitched.
While many will excuse Kuroda's poor season as a result of age, it must be said that this is terrible news for the Yanks. They were heavily dependent upon Kuroda to be at least somewhat like he was in 2013, but with that not happening right now, he is just another question mark in a starting rotation filled with them.
Maybe he rebounds, maybe he doesn't. Whatever the case may be, Kuroda's struggles are a huge problem for New York and underscores that this team needs to make some serious moves to improve the starting rotation this season or face the prospect of missing the playoffs once again.
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