The Yankees are set to acquire right-hander Michael Pineda from the Mariners in a four-player deal, but they aren’t done improving their rotation. Jack Curry of YES Network reports that they have agreed to terms with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal worth between $10-11 million, pending a physical. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that it’s for $10 million.
Kuroda, who turns 37 in February, earned $12 million last season while posting a 3.07 ERA and 161/49 K/BB ratio over 202 innings. He has a 3.45 ERA since coming over to the United States four years ago.
The Yankees tried to acquire Kuroda at the deadline last year, but he wasn’t willing to waive his no-trade clause. The common line of thinking after the season was that the veteran right-hander would either pitch in Los Angeles or return to his native Japan to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp, but he changed his stance after the Dodgers added Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang earlier this winter.
In less than an hour, the Yankees rotation has improved by leaps and bounds. They are now projected to have CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and likely a three-way battle between A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for fifth spot. Burnett is still owed $33 million over the next two seasons, so he would presumably have the upper hand. The depth is nice to have, but it will be interesting to see whether the Yankees use Hughes as a chip for a hitter if they are underwhelmed by some of the DH-types remaining on the free agent market.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.