The Yankees least effective starting pitcher this season, Masahiro Tanaka, finally looked like his vintage self on Thursday night.
To say Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka got his groove back against the Red Sox would be an understatement.
Throwing just 97 pitches (72 of which were for strikes), Tanaka was able to toss a complete game shutout, while only allowing three hits — all singles — striking out three and not walking a single batter.
Arguably his most dominant outing since signing a 7-year, $155 million dollar deal back in 2014, the 28-year-old right-hander pitched like he was double parked — outdueling notable Yankee killer Chris Sale (4-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 career outings) in an abbreviated two-hour and 21-minute contest.
Following his duel against the lanky Red Sox hurler, Tanaka told the New York Post he relishes the opportunity to compete against top competition.
"“I enjoy the competition. I think a lot of people thought about how well he was pitching up to this point and that Chris Sale had the upper hand,’’ Tanaka said. “I wanted to go in there and try to beat the odds, I guess.’’More from Yankees NewsCC Sabathia defends Yankees’ massive Aaron Judge contractScott Boras closed Yankees-Carlos Rodón deal from Fenway Park, put cherry on topOrioles are bailing out Yankees and AL East by botching free agencyGuy who caught Aaron Judge record HR ball cost himself tons of money in auctionDid Yankees fans bully Hal Steinbrenner into signing Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón?"
Following two horrendous starts to open the 2017 season, Tanaka has righted the ship, going 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA. Perhaps without the weight of an entire pitching staff riding on his shoulders, Tanaka has finally reverted back to his dominant 2016 form.
That pressure has dissipated thanks in part to the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff, that have combined for a Major League-best 2.90 ERA. No, that’s no a typo.
As a whole, Yankees’ pitchers have won 13 games, tossed 12 quality starts and have held opposing hitters to a .214 batting average (also number one in baseball).
Hard to believe? Not if you’ve watched the games.
Rookie, Jordan Montgomery has pitched much better than advertised through his first three starts. Adam Warren and his 12-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio have been lights out. And Bryan Mitchell‘s 0.58 WHIP is currently ranked within the top 15 pitchers in the league.
No longer is Tanaka asked to pitch the game of his life each and every time he takes the hill. There are reinforcements that can pick him up should he hit a rough patch… or two.
As we witnessed yesterday evening, this change in mindset can lead to a great many things for not only Tanaka but the rest of the club. After all, Tanaka became the first Yankee since Mike Mussina in 2002 to throw a complete game shutout against the Red Sox. Not too shabby.