Buchholz v. Kuroda

The Sox go for two in a row this evening against the Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda (38) pitched in Japan for ten years before heading to the United States in 2008. Since his arrival, he’s been a pretty good pitcher. His ERA+ (a league average ERA+ is 100; as a point of reference the Cy Young Award winner last year – David Price – had an ERA+ of 149 and our very own John Lester’s 2012 ERA+ was 90).

Kuroda’s ERA+ the past five years:

2008 112
2009 106
2010 114
2011 120
2012 126

He’s been a pretty solid pitcher from age 33-38 and he’s been paid a bit over $57 million dollars for those stats. In the past five years, only 11 players over the age of 35 have had an ERA+ of 120 or greater.

2007 Pedro Martinez 169
2012 RA Dickey 140
2010 RA Dickey 138
2010 Andy Pettite 132
2008 Mike Mussina 131
2008 Derek Lowe 129
2012 Kuroda 126
2012 Ryan Dempster 124
2012 Ted Lilly 122
2010 Chris Carpenter 120
2011 Kuroda 120

That’s pretty nice company. The problem is that these old pitchers can lose it quickly.

*Pedro in 2008 had an ERA+ of 75 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts.
*Pettite did not pitch in 2011 and came back to throw only 75 innings for the Yankees last year before getting hurt.
*Mussina retired after the 2008 season at the age of 40.
*Lowe has been barely hanging around since 2008 with ERA+ of 88, 98, 76, and 77. He’s been a lousy pitcher since his age 35 season.
*Chris Carpenter was a decent pitcher after 2010 with ERA+ of 108 and 106 but he was injured in 2012 and has announced his retirement.

The Yankees are relying on Kuroda and Pettite (soon to be 41) to help them win in 2013. The view from the rear view mirror is nice, but I think the Yankees are in for a long season, particularly relying on Pettite to perform at a high level. There have only been 18 pitchers since 1961 to be 40 or older, throw 150 or more innings, and record a season ERA+ of 120 or above. Perhaps Pettite is one of those guys. I’d bet against it though.

If anything happens to Kuroda or Pettite, the Yankees are in a world of trouble. That’s a pretty fine line Cashman has decided to walk. I like that the old guys the Sox are throwing out there are five years younger then Kuroda and Pettite. Granted one of those guys is John Shellackey, but I have hopes the he can return to some form of the pitcher he was when signed by the Sox in 2010. Unlike the Yankees, if Lackey stinks up the joint there are some terrific young arms waiting in AAA to fill in – De La Rosa, Webster and Barnes. The Yankees don’t have that luxury. What young arms they do have are a ways away.

Age

Lester 29
Buchholz 28
Dempster 35
Lackey 34
Doubront 25

Sabathia 33
Kuroda 38
Pettite 40
Nova 26
Phelps 27

I’d rather have the Red Sox rotation.

Thoughts on today’s game:

If Buchholz can keep Cano in check, something he’s not been able to do – Cano has gone 12 for 25 with 4 doubles and a home run with only 1 strikeout against Buchholz, then I think the rest of the Yankee’s AAA lineup won’t do much.

I like Robinson Cano, but I think the Yankees are asking way too much of him this year. There must be some pretty serious pressure on him to perform with Jeter, AFraud, Teix and Granderson injured or rehabbing.

Anyway, I think the Sox win this game 5-2 to start the season 2-0. History is against me though, the Sox have not started 2-0 since 1999.

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