As we count down to Opening Day, Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand will answer 14 for '14 -- the top 14 questions facing the 2014 New York Yankees. The series will run until the eve of the first pitch between the Yankees and Astros on Tuesday, April 1, and will end with both Matthews and Marchand making their predictions for the season.
Question: Will Hiroki Kuroda be more Cy Young or Cy Old?
Andrew Marchand: Kuroda was a Cy Young candidate last season until he went 0-6 over his final eight starts, with a 6.56 ERA. That leaves him as a question mark going into this year. Kuroda also had weird home and away splits. In the Bronx, he was 7-3 with a 2.35 ERA, while on the road he was 4-10 with a 4.05 ERA.
Kuroda is 39, but I think he can have a pretty good season. He will not be a Cy Young contender, but he won’t be one of the worst starters -- like he was the final months of last year -- in baseball either. What will he be? I believe he’ll turn that 11-13 record around and finish 13-11 with a 3.91 ERA.
Wallace Matthews: For the past two seasons, Kuroda has been a Tale of Two Pitchers. Great in the first half, not-so-great in the second half. And last year, he was downright awful after the All-Star break.
The Yankees aren't sure if this is due to his age or the strain of throwing 200-plus innings per year, a total he has reached in each of his past three seasons. (In Japan, he threw 200 innings in only two of 11 seasons.)
And it's not just the past two seasons in which he's shown a drop-off; throughout his big league career, Kuroda's ERA has consistently risen in the second half.
So the answer is probably yes to both questions. His history tells us Kuroda will be great the first half of the season, not-so-great the second half. That probably translates to a close-to-.500 record -- I'll say 13-12 -- and an ERA of about 3.50.