A couple weeks ago I wrote about which pitcher would start the All-Star Game for the American League. It retrospect, it was probably a foregone conclusion since Jim Leyland managed the AL and was going to pick his own deserving guy, Max Scherzer. One pitcher who wasn’t in consideration was Yankees righty Hiroki Kuroda. He wasn’t voted onto the team.
Arguing why Kuroda was snubbed for guys having subpar seasons like Justin Verlander is a story for earlier this month. It’s doubtful Kuroda cares since his pitching has put him squarely in the Cy Young conversation. Last Thursday he blanked the Rangers in Arlington over seven innings to up his mark to 10-6, which is almost irrelevant in determining Kuroda – or any pitcher’s – success.
More importantly the 38-year old Kuroda lowered his ERA to 2.51, placing him second in the league to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (2.43), going into tonight’s game in Los Angeles against his former club, the Dodgers. (Against potential National League Cy Young/MVP Clayton Kershaw.)
The rest of Kuroda’s stats — either traditional or Sabremetric — don’t blow you away. His 1.04 WHIP still trails countryman Hisashi Iwakuma’s 0.94. Kuroda only fans about six batters per nine. His component ERA trails Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Hernandez and Iwakuma’s. If you fancy the “cheap wins” stat, Kuroda doesn’t have any of those. The New York Times noted Kuroda has gone 100 starts and over 600 innings without an error.
The best case to be made for Kuroda’s great 2013 is run support. The Yankees are averaging 3.48 runs in his 21 starts. The only other American League pitcher in the Cy Young discussion with less support is the White Sox’s Chris Sale who gets a paltry 2.63 runs backing per start. The challenge of pitching is so many low-scoring, one-run games has to be a factor considered by voters at awards time.
After Hernandez won the 2010 Cy Young with a 13-12 record, it’s safe to say few voters are still using wins and losses as a measuring tool. Kurdoa, should he keep pitching like this, will be in the mix when the awards are handed out. It might not be enough to overtake Sherzer, Darvish, Sale, Hernandez and the rest of the crowded American League field, but history will likely show his All-Star snub will be one of the dumbest in recent baseball history.
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