First Pitch: Hiroki for Cy Young?

Well, no. There are just too many good pitchers having terrific years for Hiroki Kuroda to get serious consideration for the AL Cy Young Award.

His won-loss record is pedestrian (12-8), his ERA (2.96) very good, but not quite in the same league with David Price (16-4 record and 2.28 ERA) or Justin Verlander (12-7 and 2.50). His opponents' batting average, .240, is not nearly as eye-popping as say, Jered Weaver's, against whom opposing hitters are batting .207.

Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

#18 SP
New York Yankees

2012 STATS

  • GM25
  • W12

  • L8

  • BB38

  • K125

  • ERA2.96

Still, Kuroda is having a remarkable year for the Yankees, and even more remarkable when you remember how slow he started (4-6, 3.96 through April and May), how little run support he's gotten (the Yankees have scored two runs or less in eight of his starts) and the culture shock he's faced in coming to the AL East from the weak-hitting NL West.

Over the past three months, Kuroda has gone 8-2 with a 2.38 ERA. More importantly, even before CC Sabathia got hurt, it was Kuroda who was pitching more like an ace. He has been as dependable as the Yankees could have hoped for, and perhaps better than they could have expected considering all the obstacles he faced in coming to New York as a 37-year-old journeyman pitcher.

"I knew he could really pitch, but he’s really taken it to a level that is just outstanding," Joe Girardi said. "Realistically, he could have 16 or 17 wins. I mean he's pitched that good, but he has had some bad luck where we haven’t scored any runs. He’s been great."

Girardi said he was most impressed by Kuroda's ability to make the transition from NL to AL and from laid-back LA to the superheated Bronx.

"I don’t think you’re ever sure how a guy’s gonna make the transition," Girardi said. "We've seen people take 2 weeks, we've seen them take a month, a year, a couple of years. He made it pretty quick, he really did. He made it quicker than a lot of other guys have."

Kuroda goes for win No. 13 tonight against the Cleveland Indians. Not nearly enough to warrant serious consideration -- after all Price and Weaver have 16 wins, Chris Sale has 15 -- but certainly more than good enough to allow the Yankees to breathe easier on the day after Sabathia pitches.

Which brings us to the Question of the Day: From what you've seen of Kuroda so far, do you think the Yankees should bring him back next season, even though he will turn 38 just before spring training begins?

Up now: My column on CC Sabathia's successful return in last night's 3-1 win in the first of three games against the Indians.

Coming later: A W2W4 from ESPN Stats and Info on tonight's matchup, Kuroda (12-8, 2.96) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (9-11, 4.73). Clubhouse opens at 3:35, lineups shortly thereafter, followed by Joe's pre-game presser and first pitch at 7:05. Check in often and as always, thanks for reading.