Friday, July 25, 2014

The '13 Andy Pettitte Connection To '14 Hiroki Kuroda

It has been well documented here on The Greedy Pinstripes and all across the Yankee Universe that Hiroki Kuroda has faded the last two seasons in the Bronx and I think I have the solution to prevent it from being a third times the charm type of scenario. Andy Pettitte was the oldest pitcher in 2013 and did not suffer from the loss of velocity or the loss of command and control of his pitches like Kuroda did, he actually seemed to get stronger as the season went on although some of that could be chalked up to adrenaline. Could we not follow the same protocol and such with this years oldest pitcher in the majors, Hiroki Kuroda, to prevent a similar melt down in the stats department?

Before coming to the Bronx the most innings that Kuroda had thrown in his Major League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers had been 202 IP, although he had only thrown 699 IP in his entire four year Dodgers career. In two seasons in pinstripes Kuroda has already thrown 421 IP and has set a new career high with 219.2 IP in 2012. The number would have been a whole lot more had it not been for those aforementioned well documented melt downs in late August and through September the last two seasons. This could have been a lot more of a glaring problem has Kuroda not pitched six or less innings in seven of his last 10 starts due to the meltdown. Pettitte pitched six or less innings in five of his final eleven starts, August and September, but Pettitte had a 6-5 record in those games where as Kuroda had a 3-7 record down the stretch.

Andy Pettitte on the other hand threw only 185.1 IP in 2013 including a complete game on his final start of his career down in Houston on the second to the last day of the season. While Pettitte's career high in IP in a single season was 240.1 that was way back in 1997. Pettitte had not gone over the 200 IP mark since the 2008 season, including his retirement in 2011 where he did not pitch at all, but his stats did not seem to suffer all that much from it. Pettitte did win a World Series titles in 2009 including pitching in all three of the series clinching games and getting the win with his reduced workload that came with age.

Using Baseball Reference we can see that Kuroda averaged 100 pitcher per start in 2013 and 101 pitcher per start in 2012. Using the same sources we see that Pettitte only averaged 97 pitches per start in 2013 and 94 pitcher per start in 2012. It is also worth noting that before Pettitte averaged 103 pitches in 2009 he did not average over 100 pitches per start since the 2003 season. A few pitches here or there over the course of a long season could be the difference between skipping a start or two, pitch wise, and can make the world of differences. Kuroda went over the 100 pitch mark 21 times in 2013 while Pettitte only did 14 times. It is worth noting also that both men had 11 wins in 2013 so the reduction in pitches should not affect Kuroda as a pitcher that much.

In closing Hiroki is not a spring chicken anymore and has a ton of innings on his arm, treat him like it. Joe Girardi is constantly throwing Kuroda out there like his stud 25 year old ace and not like the 40 year old pitcher that he is. Kuroda should not be throwing complete games much anymore and should not be pushing the 200 IP barrier before September even begins anymore, he is 40 not 30. Kuroda is great but Kuroda has earned the right to be babied and the load on his shoulders lightened as he gets older, not increased. If the Yankees want Kuroda to be fresh all season long and into the playoffs potentially then they need to take a page out of their own books and pretend the #46 is on his back and not the #18 because Kuroda cannot do it anymore for 200+ innings. Eight innings or less, 100 pitches or less, and one more ring and a ride into the sunset for Kuroda and the Yankees.

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