Hiroki Kuroda was brilliant again for the Yankees on Monday night against the Angels, tossing eight shutout innings and striking out seven. It was his ninth scoreless start this season (24 total starts), and fifth in the past six weeks.
Since July 7, Kuroda is 4-1 with an 0.94 ERA in seven games against some tough competition – he’s had to face the Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers and Dodgers during that stretch.
But as good as Kuroda has been, he’s unlikely to win the American League Cy Young Award. Heck, he likely won’t finish in the top three.
Whether you value old school or new school measurements, Kuroda’s 11-7 record, 2.33 ERA and 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings simply don’t measure up to his peers.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is currently the leader in the clubhouse in the eyes of many analysts. King Felix is 12-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 9.22 K/9.
But he also has 5.2 Wins Above Replacement, beating Kuroda’s 3.5. While the two players’ ERAs may be similar, more advanced statistics show a greater divide. FIP, a metric measuring a pitcher's controllable factors such as strikeouts, walks and home runs, has Hernandez in front with a 2.50 compared with Kuroda’s 3.25. Another stat, xFIP, which also looks at controllable factors but normalizes home run rate, has Hernandez beating Kuroda 2.62 to 3.54. Back to old school stats, Hernandez has pitched 173.2 innings, which outpaces Kuroda’s 154.2.
Even if Hernandez fails to claim the award (let’s say voters don’t like that he’s on a losing team), there are plenty of others who appear more worthy than Kuroda:
(1) Detroit’s Max Scherzer is 17-1 with a 2.84 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 2.97 xFIP, 4.8 WAR and 9.95 K/9.
(2) Texas ace Yu Darvish is 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA, 4.1 WAR and 12.12 K/9. He has 207 strikeouts and, with just under two months to go in the season, has an outside chance at reaching 300.
(3) Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez is 10-7 with a 2.58 ERA, 2.41 FIP and 4.2 WAR.
(4) Rangers lefty Derek Holland is 9-6 with a 3.07 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 4.6 WAR.
(5) White Sox standout Chris Sale is 8-11, but with a 2.73 ERA, 9.49 K/9 and 4.2 WAR.
Kuroda will certainly get some votes, especially if the Yankees make the playoffs. But with so many sterling contenders this season, it would be a huge upset if he won the award.