Yankees set again to lean on consistent KurodaLast season's ace still a key cog in New York's bolstered starting rotation
Background: Hiroki Kuroda is a 39-year-old Japanese starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. He's been in the big leagues since 2008, and he pitched for the Dodgers until 2012 when he signed with the Yankees. He has a stellar career ERA of 3.40 and averages a little less than 160 strikeouts per season.
2013 Season: 2013 was a classic season for Kuroda. Because of CC Sabathia's struggles, Kuroda was the Yankees' ace for the majority of the season. He won 11 games and posted a 3.31 ERA in 201 innings.
Greatest Strength: Kuroda's greatest strength is his consistent ability to keep the Yankees in games. He's never had a bad season in his six years in the Majors, and while he's not likely to have a Cy Young-type season, the Yankees pretty much know exactly what they're going to get out of him.
Greatest Weakness: Kuroda struggled significantly in the second half of last year. In the first half, he went 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA. After that, though, he went 3-7 with a 4.25 ERA. Given the fact that he's about to turn 40, it's a little bit concerning for the Yankees that Kuroda may not be effective for an entire season anymore. Look for Joe Girardi to play with his innings to keep him fresh throughout the season.
Prediction: Kuroda will most likely have another effective season for the Yankees. 200 innings may not be reasonable to expect from the soon-to-be 40-year-old, but an ERA under 4.00 and double digits in wins are both things the Yankees would love to get out of the Japanese right-hander.