In last night’s start against the Angels, Masahiro Tanaka finally experienced his first rough start of the season. However, a rough start for him looks like a very solid start for other pitchers in the league. Tanaka’s control was not present on a cold night in the Bronx. After walking just two hitters in his first 4 starts, Tanaka walked 4 Halos’ hitters. He also allowed 2 earned runs including a David Freese solo home run to right center field. On a good note however, he struck out 11 batters and now has 46 strikeouts total in his first five starts. The Angels were also 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Tanaka showed his grit on the mound especially in tough situations. His go-to pitch was his splitter, as he was able to make Angels hitters chase the pitch in the dirt. Give credit to Tanaka, but give more credit to catcher Brian McCann, who was confident enough to block balls in the dirt all night especially when runners were in scoring position.
Tanaka is used to pitching on the big stage and doing whatever it takes to win. During the Japanese Series, Tanaka threw 160 pitches in one game. In America, that is considered a lot of pitches and is the type of thing that might get a manager fired, but in Japan, pitchers feel they earn respect from a hitter when they reach a full count, 3 balls and 2 strikes. After throwing 160 pitches the day before, Tanaka pitched the very next day in relief to help his team win the championship.
The man is a tank. With all seven of his pitches, Tanaka is still only 25-years-old and developing all of them. Once he has a few years in America under his belt, Tanaka will become the next dominate pitcher of the era. He already has made a name for himself in only his first year.