Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is at it again this season: 2.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 3.59 K/BB ratio through 18 starts in this, his age-38 season. Kuroda, despite not starting his career in the U.S. major leagues until he was 33, has been an above-average starter every season and presently owns a career ERA+ of 119.
Like a lot of starting pitchers from Japan, Kuroda throws a bushel of different offerings, and one of those pitches is his split-fingered fastball. According to Brooks Baseball, Kuroda has gone to the splitter more than ever this season -- more than 20 percent of the time, in fact.
This GIF, which comes to us courtesy of The Fundamentals, will help you understand why Kuroda has come to favor that splitter.
That's from an interleague series against the Mets back in late May, but it still merits sharing.
That, folks, is an out pitch. Note the characteristic grip, as Kuroda's fingers are indeed "split" and riding the seams for extra spin.
Brooks data tell us that Kuroda typically gets about five inches of glove-side run on his splitter, and that's paired with, as you can see, quite a bit of hard sink. Whiff.
Somewhere, Bruce Sutter nods approvingly.