Don’t think a rookie pitcher can be the most important player on a major league team? Just look in the Bronx. The Yankees are 12-2 when Masahiro Tanaka is the starting pitcher, and 7 games below .500 when he is not. Tanaka leads the majors with 11 wins, and has an AL-best 1.99 ERA. He has 113 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings of work.
After Tanaka’s domination of Toronto in the Yankees 3-1 win, Joe Girardi told Barry Bloom of mlb.com that certain statistics don’t accurately reflect a pitcher’s success, but a combination of stats do.
“…When you have an ERA where his is and the strikeouts he’s given you, that tells you something,” Girardi told Bloom referring to Tanaka.
Tanaka’s start is comparable to Ron Guidry in 1978, and Roger Clemens in 2001. Guidry opened up 13-0 and finished the season with a 25-3 record and a 1.74 ERA. Clemens started his season 19-1, and finished 20-3 with 213 strikeouts. Both Guidry and Clemens won the AL Cy Young in those years.
Girardi is well aware of how impressive and potentially historic his start has been telling Bloom,
“It’s hard to say that his start isn’t as good as anyone who has ever pitched. He’s 11-1 as a rookie. He’s first in the AL in ERA. He’s right up there in strikeouts. His start is as good as anyone I know.”
Tanaka’s next scheduled start is this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.