Yankees News: Who is the Most Watched Pitcher after Tanaka this Spring?


The most coveted New York Yankees arm was on display at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday for the second time this spring. Yes, there is some significant interest in other Yankee pitchers, but when it comes to the 2015 season, there’s no secret that the success of the Bronx Bombers sits on the shoulder of Masahiro Tanaka’s right arm.

Now two bullpen sessions into spring training doesn’t quite provide enough information to determine if the slight tear in Tanaka’s right UCL has healed or if it’s ready to dismantle.

Yet, Tanaka’s description of how his elbow feels has to have the Yankees organization confident.

“Absolutely good,’’ Tanaka said through his translator, after a 35-pitch session that included breaking balls and several signature split-fingered fastballs that Tanaka so very often uses as his put-away pitch.

Naturally, the other five starters and the heavily anticipated Yankees bullpen are crucial to the teams chances of avoiding a third straight season without playoffs . However, because of the Cy Young caliber performance Tanaka was putting together in his rookie season before suffering the injury in July, his decision to elect rehabilitation instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery and major question marks regarding the rest of their rotation, Tanaka’s health is the lifeline to their season.

According to George King III of the New York Post, Tanaka believed he was better after his bullpen session on Sunday than in his first one of the spring on Thursday.

“The No. 1 thing, I threw a little harder than the last time,’’ said the 26-year-old Tanaka, who was watched by Joe Girardi and team doctor Chris Ahmad. “That was the difference from the last time.’’

While all eyes were on Tanaka, the young Nathan Eovaldi was also at work on Sunday. The right-hander with the over-powering fastball equipped to the lackluster 15-35 record over four seasons with the Miami Marlins threw batting practice to catching prospects Francisco Arcia and Eddy Rodriguez on the main field.

Eovaldi, 25, displayed the very same electric arm that led GM Brian Cashman to ship out the fan favorite and versatile Martin Pradio along with the home-grown David Phelps in order to acquire his services.

According to King, his fastball had plenty of life, and while his breaking stuff, including an evolving split-fingered fastball, wasn’t ultra-crisp, there were plenty of positive signs to take away from his performance.

However, when you look at Eovaldi, who reportedly arrived to camp with pitching prospect Domingo German and first baseman Garrett Jones, both of whom were packaged in the same deal that brought Eovaldi over to New York, it’s nearly impossible to ignore not only his  abysmal numbers in 2014, but across his four big league seasons to date.

“I felt like I started strong, in the middle part of it I struggled. I didn’t feel right mechanically,’’ said the 25-year-old Eovaldi, who went 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 33 games in 2014. He surrendered a whopping 223 hits in 199 2/3 innings.

Eovaldi was encouraged by Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez to begin working on throwing a splitter, which Japanese pitchers like Tanaka favor, but has essentially been replaced in the game with the cut-fastball.

“The last four games of the season we started to work on it. I needed another strikeout pitch other than the slider and fastball.’’

Developing an effective put-away pitch is essential for Eovaldi whose mid-90s fastball hasn’t translated to wins (15-35) or strikeout totals (321 Ks in 460 career innings pitched), which are normally associated with hard-throwers.

Because he is moving from the pitcher-friendly National League to the over-powering American League, Eovaldi will have to deal with deeper lineups thanks to the DH position and not having the luxury of an automatic out when facing the opposing teams pitcher.

“It’s better competition, and I am ready to experience it,’’ Eovaldi said.

I’m excited to see the way Eovaldi and Tanaka finish out their spring training routines. What do you think Yankee fans? Let us know in the comments below!

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