On Sunday, the 37-year-old right-hander will be asked to start on three days rest for the first time in his career in one of the Yankees’ most important games of the season.
"This is probably the shortest rest I've ever had in my baseball career, but at this point in the season, we can't really be talking about anything but to win," Kuroda said through a translator prior to Game 1 of the ALCS. "I'm just gonna prepare myself to win this game like I always have been throughout the season."
Kuroda has been rock-solid as the No. 2 starter for the Yankees in 2012 after signing a one-year, $10 million free-agent contract to pitch in New York. He went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in the regular season. In Game 3 of the ALDS against Baltimore, Kuroda gave up just two runs on five hits in 8 1/3 innings.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had other options -- namely going with youngin’ David Phelps -- but felt like Kuroda on short rest was the right one. Given the way Girardi has been pushing all the right buttons lately, it’s hard to fault him.
Still, given Kuroda’s age and how many innings he’s logged (228, including postseason), it’s certainly a gamble.
Girardi is probably hoping to get five or six innings out of him. It’ll be interesting to see how Kuroda fares.
Kuroda’s career splits based on days rest between starts break down like this (source, baseball-reference.com):
Four days: 3.53
Five days: 3.32
Six or more days: 3.07
Three days (relief): 20.25