First Pitch: The Glue Guy

HOUSTON -- CC Sabathia is still trying to reinvent himself as an ace. Ivan Nova is attempting to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. Masahiro Tanaka is one of the most intriguing stories in all of baseball. Michael Pineda could be the X factor.

That leaves Tuesday night's starter, Hiroki Kuroda, as potentially the glue guy of this Yankees rotation. He is usually very solid and may be the one to make the front end of the rotation and the back end stick together in 2014.

On his first night out, he will try to turn the page on the Yankees' Opening Day debacle.

Kuroda, 39, has been very consistent as a major leaguer. He has made 30 starts and pitched 180 innings in five of his six seasons. Even in 2013, when he struggled late, he finished with an 11-13 record and a 3.31 ERA.

An argument could be made that Kuroda has been the best Japanese starter to pitch in the majors so far. While Yu Darvish appears on his way to surpassing Kuroda with a 3.34 ERA after two years, Kuroda's 3.42 number over six seasons is the best by nearly a run over the next starter, Hideo Nomo (4.24).

But there were questions about Kuroda because of his major struggles to end last season. On Wednesday, Kuroda will begin to answer them.

ON DECK: Wednesday's game is an 8:10 p.m. start. Kuroda faces Jarred Cosart (1-1, 1.95). Ian O'Connor and I will be on hand.

JETER CEREMONY: The Astros will honor Derek Jeter prior to Wednesday's game. Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and other former teammates are expected.

QUESTION: Where would you rank Kuroda in importance on the Yankees' starting staff?