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Leiter: Kuroda needs to get ahead to find success

YES analyst likes the look of Yankees ahead of Subway Series opener
05/12/2014 2:14 PM ET
By YESNetwork.com Staff

Derek Jeter greets Mets manager Terry Collins prior to last season's Subway Series.(AP)
On what Hiroki Kuroda needs to do to be successful:

He is like any pitcher who doesn't have an overpowering fastball. He has to get ahead and use both sides of the plate. By getting ahead, he can be effective with his split finger. He is coming off his best start against the Angels; in that game, he had a better slider, maintained velocity on his split and I thought his two-seam comeback fastball to left-handed hitters was good.

Yankees bats starting to come around:

Talent can't be held down too long. The Yankees lineup has many quality hitters and the length of their lineup is impressive, especially when (Brian) Roberts and (Brian) McCann get hot. Tex (Mark Teixeira) is on the verge of getting hot. And, the Yankees have good balance with speed and versatility. 

Ellsbury's hot start has been impressive. 

He has been better than advertised, in my opinion. He has been steady on both sides of the ball. He solidifies the lead-off spot, but still can bat third if necessary. His defense has already saved several runs for a pitching staff that relies on putting the ball in play. (Jacoby) Ellsbury covers a lot of ground.

Jeter's offense not a concern. 

Derek Jeter can hit, period. If Derek stays healthy and Girardi gets him adequate rest, I believe Derek will have a fine year.

Vidal Nuno can be tough to hit. 

He is successful when he gets ahead. He's not really overpowering batters at 88-89 mph. I love the fact he has two quality secondary pitches: a good changeup and a curveball. Pitching ahead in the count makes him tough to hit because he'll throw any pitch in any count.

The Mets' bats heading into the Subway Series: 

The Mets have struggled scoring this year and, other than (David) Wright and (Daniel) Murphy, they haven't had consistent offense. Offensively the Mets have been challenged. Grandy (Curtis Granderson) has struggled, as well as (Travis) d'Arnaud, Eric Young and (Lucas) Duda. (Juan) Lagares has helped solidify the lead-off spot. Shortstop remains a big question mark after demoting (Ruben) Tejada to utility and promoting promising prospect Wilmer Flores.

The Mets' pitching situation: 

(Bartolo) Colon has struggled, giving up seven home runs in seven starts. He throws a lot of strikes but, unlike last year when he was with Oakland, hitters are squaring him up at .300 clip. The Mets' pitching has not been good other than (Dillon) Gee and (Jon) Niese. I do like (Jenrry) Mejia's and (Zack) Wheeler's arms, though: power guys that have good upside. The Mets' bullpen, in particular, has not been good. No bullpen has ever been successful with a "closer by committee" structure. With Parnell gone with elbow surgery, the Mets have used (Jose) Valverde, (Kyle) Farnsworth, Carlos Torres and (Daisuke) Matsuzaka. I have never been a fan of having relievers not having consistent roles.

Masahiro Tanaka continues to get better

Tanaka continues to impress and improve. In his start in Milwaukee, he showed early on when his split was down, it was so effective. With his ability to have his split move in two directions and a fastball that touches low to mid 90's, he is so tough to hit.

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