New York Yankees: ALCS Game 1 Breakdown; Masahiro Tanaka vs Zack Greinke

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have officially released their ALCS game 1 starters. Masahiro Tanaka will face a difficult challenge by going toe to toe against Zack Greinke.

Tanaka, who is known for his “hard as nails” performances in the postseason, is looking to steal game 1 from the Astros in Houston. If you don’t believe me, just take a quick glimpse at these impressive numbers. In 35 innings pitched from 2015-2019, Tanaka has recorded a 1.54 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.61 xFIP, 0.80 WHIP and a 3.31 SIERA. He also has a 92.7 LOB%, 8.23 K/9%, 2.06 BB/9% and a 0.77 HR/9%. All of these numbers scream utter dominance.

As far as Greinke is concerned, his numbers in the postseason aren’t atrocious by any means. In 70.2 innings pitched from 2011-2019, Greinke has recorded a 4.58 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP and a 3.19 SIERA. He also has a 67.0 LOB%, 8.15 K/9%, 2.04 BB/9% and a 1.53 HR/9%. Keep in mind these stats are inflated from his last start vs the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing 5 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

Tanaka has Greinke beat in every single category expect for xFIP, SIERA and BB/9%. While the BB/9% portion is self explanatory and means Greinke is walking less batters than Tanaka, xFIP and SIERA are a bit more advanced.

Why does Greinke have a better xFIP in the postseason? Based on strikeouts, walks and home runs, he has been an overall better pitcher than Tanaka. Why does Greinke have a better SIERA in the postseason? Based on balls in play, he has been more successful at limiting hits and preventing runs than Tanaka.

In 1006.1 innings pitched, Tanaka has recorded a 3.75 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP and a 3.60 SIERA in his career. On the flip side, in 2872 innings pitched, Greinke has recorded a 2.93 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, 1.16 WHIP and a 3.57 SIERA in his career. Massive difference in the sample size, but you get the gist of things.

However, the postseason is a completely different ballgame compared to the regular season. While clutch can be considered a controversial topic between those who adore stats and those who despise stats, there is no denying that nerves still exist for each pitcher.

It will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion between Tanaka and Greinke. Both pitchers are capable of performing exceedingly well and have proven so in their careers. Regardless, this game will more than likely be a bitter battle to the finish line.

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