The $155 Million dollar man has looked rather impressive. Since he stepped foot in America, he’s impressed. Spring training, during interviews and now his first three Major League starts have been nothing short of dominant.
His numbers three starts in are pretty staggering. He’s thrown 22 innings, allowed 15 hits and has only allowed 5 earned runs. What’s amazing is his K/BB ratio; which is 28 K’s to 2 BB;s. He’s already had two 10 strikeout games both in which he only walked one person in each respective game. He’s averaging 11.45 K/9 and an astounding 0.82 BB/9, Cliff Lee like control. That’s good company to be in. Although it has only been three starts only, let’s not get WAY ahead of ourselves, but it’s hard to say this guy isn’t going to be a dominant force for a long time, barring good health. FIP, otherwise known as fielding independent pitching, measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average, according to Fangraphs. According to Fangraphs chart, here, excellent FIP is 2.90, 4.00 is average and 5.00 is awful, with other measures in the middle. Masahiro’s FIP through three games is 2.04, small sample size, but that’s mind-blowing.
He’s had two go-to pitches to start off this season. His fastballs and splitters, both he seems to throw two different ways. He features a straight 4-seem that he goes to when he’s trying to gas it up a bit and likes to throw it up in the zone. His splitters are the money makers. He has his split-finger that is his go-to finisher but he has another split he uses to get ahead of hitters because he can control it so well. Today, his third start, we saw a better slider than we have his first couple outings. In the latter stages of the game he threw two sliders that have been better than any he’s thrown all year and got two K’s with them. He’s kind of left them hanging a bit too much, but like I said, they’ve progressively gotten better over his starts. Tanaka and McCann seem to have great chemistry already and seem to be a couple of pitches ahead of each hitter they face.
Has Tanaka Time been a small sample size? Aboslutely. Is it still April? Yup. That being said, the guy can flat-out pitch. He understands concepts, understands getting ahead of hitters and knows how much walks hurt. There was a reason this guy went 24-0 in Japan a year ago and there is a reason why he had quite a significant pay-day when he came to the States and New York. Don’t be surprised if he’s in a few Cy Young talks and don’t be surprised if Masahiro Tanaka is starting the Yankees first playoff game, barring they make it of course.