Masahiro Tanaka is proving to be worth every penny through his first two starts. Though he struggled early in both outings, he has minimized damage and hasn’t given up any runs past the second inning in either start.
His first start came on April 4th against Toronto and after giving up three runs in the first two innings, he recovered to pitch 7 innings while allowing only 3 runs (2 earned), 6 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 8.
Tanaka’s Bronx debut came on Wednesday against the Orioles. Even though he gave up a long three-run home run to Jonathan Schoop in the second, he would manage to again pitch 7 innings with 10 strikeouts, 7 hits, 1 walk, and allow only 3 runs (all coming on Schoop’s home run).
Being able to recover after giving up runs and holding the opposing team down when his team ties the game is a major quality that an ace must possess.
He has shown great command of his four-seam fastball, sinker, slider, and especially his devastating splitter. All four were the final pitch for at least two of his ten strikeouts against Baltimore, according to MLB.com’s Gamecast.
Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones, who mocked the hype surrounding Tanaka before Wednesday night’s game, was the victim of two Tanaka strikeouts (granted he did line a single to center field in his third at-bat against the Yankees right-hander).
He even brought his own pre-game preparation music with him from Japan. While throwing his warm up pitches before the first inning, a Japanese pop song, known as “My Dear Fellow” which was made especially for Tanaka by Japanese artist Momoiro Clover Z.
If he continues to pitch at this rate, Tanaka will be moving up in the Yankees rotation very quickly.