The Yankees attempted to bolster their rotation over the offseason with a couple key acquisitions. The headline-grabber was young fireballer Michael Pineda, who was scooped up from the Mariners for Jesus Montero. Somewhat under the radar, though, was the signing of Hiroki Kuroda, and that Brian Cashman move has paid big dividends.
Kuroda made mincemeat out of the Red Sox lineup Sunday night, spinning eight innings of one-run ball while allowing a measly four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. It continues an unbelievable run from the Japanese import that’s seen him put up a 1.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 42/6 K/BB ratio over his last seven outings. Kuroda now boasts a nifty 2.96 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 25 starts this season.
The right-hander was a fine pitcher for the Dodgers, never putting up an ERA higher than 3.76 in his four years there. But, there was reason to believe a downturn in production would be coming in 2012. Kuroda was moving from one of the better parks in baseball for pitchers to one of the best for hitters. He was also moving to the AL East, a division that he posted a 3-8 record and 4.33 ERA against while with the Dodgers. Plus, he was simply a year older, and a 37-year-old without overpowering stuff who’s moving to the best division in baseball could understandably face some skeptics.
Obviously, those factors working against him haven’t fazed Kuroda, who is in the midst of his best season as a pro. There’s no doubt that his hot streak has come at a great time for the Yankees, with both CC Sabathia (elbow) and Andy Pettitte (ankle) on the disabled list and Ivan Nova struggling for consistency. Kuroda will try to keep it going this weekend against the Indians.
Starling Down, Tabata Up
Starling Marte led off the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the Cardinals with a bunt single, which ignited a two-run rally to tie the game. As it turns out, Marte was bunting because it hurt too much to swing.
The 23-year-old outfielder had suffered a right oblique strain earlier in the game, and when he showed up to the park Sunday sorer than the day before, the Pirates placed him on the disabled list. No timetable for his return has been set, but, as we all know, players usually require more than a minimum stint on the DL when dealing with oblique strains.
Marte has batted just .253 with a .287 OBP, which made him an odd fit for the leadoff spot. But, he was still helping out fantasy owners by going deep four times while also stealing four bases over 23 games.
The native Dominican was replaced on the roster by Venezuelan Jose Tabata, the Pirates’ Opening Day right fielder who had been languishing at Triple-A since his demotion in early July. Tabata batted .297 at Indy with a .353 OBP, and although he failed to homer, he stole five bases over 41 games. He batted leadoff for the Pirates Sunday and should receive regular time while Marte is out, making him a worthy play in NL-only formats.
National League Quick Hits: The Mets will make a decision Monday on what to do with struggling left-hander Johan Santana. It’s possible he’ll be shut down for the season. Santana has posted an 8.27 ERA since his no-hitter and has allowed at least six runs in each of his last five starts ... Jaime Garcia was fantastic Sunday in his first start since early June, giving up just two unearned runs while recording a career-high 10 strikeouts against the Pirates. Garcia has a tough matchup against the Reds the next time out, but it appears it’s safe to return him to fantasy lineups ... Michael Cuddyer was placed back on the disabled list Sunday after aggravating his oblique ailment Saturday. It’s possible the injury will end his season ... Emilio Bonifacio was activated from the DL Sunday after missing a couple weeks following the aggravation of his thumb injury. He’ll be used exclusively in the outfield so as to prevent further issues with the thumb ... Eric Young Jr. exited Sunday’s game with an intercostal strain. He seems likely to require a DL stint ... Tim Stauffer is likely to undergo exploratory surgery on his elbow. He’s out for the season regardless ... Kevin Correia has been moved back to the bullpen as the Pirates go back to a five-man rotation. James McDonald, who had been on the hot seat, keeps his spot after a nice start Friday ... Carlos Ruiz (foot) has been cleared to remove his walking boot. He’s hoping to make a return sometime next month ... Brian McCann could undergo offseason shoulder surgery to remove a cyst and repair a frayed labrum. McCann has dealt with the ailment for much of the year and has required many days off.
American League Quick Hits: David Ortiz (Achilles) expects to be activated from the DL sometime this week. He’s been out since mid-July ... The Red Sox will have a meeting with Carl Crawford Monday, when it will be determined whether the outfielder will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Crawford reportedly is in favor of having the season-ending procedure ... Mark Teixeira (wrist) sat out a third straight game Sunday but expects to return to action Monday. The first baseman could need surgery on his left wrist after the season, but he’ll try to gut it out for now ... Denard Span (shoulder) sat out his sixth straight game Sunday and has yet to resume taking batting practice. The Twins think he’ll be ready to return to the lineup in a day or two, but it’s certainly not a guarantee ... The Red Sox are interested in re-signing impending free agent Cody Ross. Ross is making just $3 million this season but has outplayed that deal. He should be able to net a multi-year contract from someone this offseason ... Michael Young went deep Sunday for the first time in 88 games as part of a three-hit, five-RBI day in a win over the Blue Jays. Young now has just four dingers in 496 plate appearances this season ... The Twins are considering booting Nick Blackburn from their rotation, either sending him to the bullpen or again demoting him to the minors. Blackburn holds a 7.39 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over 19 starts this season ... Jeremy Guthrie took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the White Sox Sunday and wound up allowing just two unearned runs over 7 2/3 frames. Guthrie hasn’t given up an earned run in his last three outings to lower his ERA from 6.56 to 5.41 ... Brett Anderson’s 30-day rehab window is up, though the A’s have yet to make a decision on when he’ll rejoin the rotation. The left-hander has posted a 4.62 ERA and 18/5 K/BB ratio over 25 1/3 innings over six rehab starts.