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How Tanaka Is Ruling The MLB

The New York Yankees took a big chance in bringing Masahiro Tanaka to the MLB with a massive multi-million dollar contract, because Tanaka succeeding in the MLB was something of a toss up.

The MLB is where the best come to play and success in Japan does not always translate into the Majors. However, we are a little over a month into the season and Tanaka has already begun to prove himself to be a valuable asset to the Yankees pitching staff. That actually may be a bit of an understatement, as Tanaka has shown that he can not only hang with the big boys, but can outpitch them.

Many people are pointing to his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers as his first hiccup.  He did allow a homer, walked four and hit a batter in the little over six innings he pitched. However, he put up a career high 11 Ks and only gave up two earned runs. More importantly the Yankees won 3-2. As far as hiccups go, it seems even is off nights are successful.

Prior to his last start, he took the mound for the Yankees four times.  He pitched at least seven innings, put up no HBPS and only walked two in each of those games.

Tanaka’s other numbers also do not lie.  In the little over 35 innings he pitched, he has 46 strikeouts, six walks and has an overall ERA of 2.27. The strikeouts alone put him in an elite group.  He has the third highest strikeouts in his first five starts out of any pitcher in the MLB at the moment. Not to mention no pitcher has ever struck out more batters while walking so few in their first five career starts.

Not even Tanaka’s weaknesses have become an issue.

Early scouting reports cited his fastball as a point of weakness.  It had all the speed, throwing for 90+ mph, but it was a very straight and hitable fastball.  Good thing Tanaka rarely uses the fastball and instead relies upon the slider and the splitter, which account for 37 Ks over five games and batters swing at the slider over 50 percent of the time and over 60 percent on the splitter.

Tanaka is not some pitching miracle by any means and will undoubtedly hit some lows in his career, if not this season.  With that said, Tanaka is still going to be a puzzle that no team will look forward to trying to solve this season and will rule the mound with an iron fist.


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