Hiroki Kuroda parts with New York Yankees to pitch in Japan


New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has chosen to end his seven year major league career and return home to Japan.  Sports Illustrated translated this report from Daisuke Suguira (Yahoo Japan):

"According to Japanese reports shared by Sugiura, Kuroda will return to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He spent 10 seasons from 1997-2007 with the Carp before jumping to the majors and signing with the Dodgers."

It wasn’t until Kuroda was 33 years old that he threw his first major league pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In four years with the Dodgers Kuroda had a career 41-46 with a 3.48 ERA through 114 starts. He entered free agency for the third time in 2011 and went on to sign with the New York Yankees.

Three years later, Kuroda exits his MLB career at 79-79 with a 3.45 ERA. He will return to the Nippon Professional Baseball League, the highest level of baseball in Japan, to play with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. The Carp drafted Kuroda in 1996. Through 10 seasons with the team, Kuroda was 103-89 with a 3.48 ERA through 1,257 strikeouts. Kuroda turns 40 this year. He topped Jeff Passan’s free agent tracker in the top 20 this offseason. He placed at 15 following fellow Japanese starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, who will also be returning to Japan.

Kuroda has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers, never holding an ERA+ below 110 in five seasons. Only three other pitchers make that claim, and they are Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee.

The absence of Kuroda is a continuation of the Yankees’ pitching staff makeover. The Yankees have acquired righty Nathan Eovaldi, pitching prospect Domingo German, and lefty Chris Capuano. Brandon McCarthy and David Phelps will be absent next season following signing with the Dodgers and being traded to the Miami Marlins, respectively.

Without Kuroda, the Yankees starting rotation Opening Day projects as: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Eovaldi, Capuano, and Ivan Nova. Nova will not join the rotation until his finishes post- Tommy John surgery rehab. His expected return is dated late May or June.

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