I tend to greatly discount talk about players who won’t be able to play in New York due to the pressure or whatever. I mean, it’s a real thing I think, but it seems overplayed. These guys are pros. And with a handful of exceptions, guys who have fizzled in New York have done so for more mundane reasons like age, health, park effects, whatever.
But after reading Alex Belth’s excellent profile of Kuroda over at Bronx Banter, it’s at least worth wondering if he’ll have some issues with the bigger stage. He sounds like a fantastic human being with a great head on his shoulders, a good sense of personal balance and all of that, but there is stuff like this too:
Kuroda will pitch in a new league, against a DH, and work in smaller ballparks than he did in the NL West. He’s coming off his two most durable years and is at his peak just when physical decline is set to take effect. Oh yeah, he’s also pitching for the Yankees, where the pressure to win is unrelenting.
“The pressure is more than double,” says Yamakawa, who told me that Kuroda went to a doctor last summer when he was having trouble sleeping at night. Unbeknownst to his teammates Kuroda spent two nights in the hospital. The doctor said that stress was keeping him awake. “But he is good at switching his mind when he’s on the mound,” Yumokura said.
The expectations for him will be to a number two or three starter, not The Man, so perhaps it won’t be too terrible. And he’s older and has been around the block before, so he’ll probably be OK.
But … worth watching, no?