New York Yankees Player Preview: Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees struck gold when Masahiro Tanaka decided to join the Yankees prior to the 2014 season. Tanaka is a great teammate and guy to have in a rotation. Tanaka does have a problem with homers, but always seems to rebound whenever it looks like he is losing it. Hopefully, he will improve this season and will be important to the Yankees in their chase for 28.

Tanaka’s numbers last season:

4.74 ERA, 13 W, 12 L, 194 K, 41 BB



Background:

Tanaka is from Hyogo, Japan and specifically the city Itami. Tanaka was a star since he was a child in Japan. He went on to play six seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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In his final season (2013), he lead the Golden Eagles to their first ever Japan series win. Following his tremendous season, Tanaka was posted by the Golden Eagles for 20 million dollars in the offseason. There was interest from many teams, but Tanaka ultimately decided to sign a seven year $155 million dollar contract with Yankees.

Yankees Hiro:

Tanaka had a fantastic rookie season for the bombers as he was selected to the All-Star Game in 2014 after going 12-4 in the first half in 18 starts. Tanaka did not get to pitch in the game because he had complained of arm discomfort after a start on July 8th. After tests were done, it was revealed that Tanaka had a small tear in his UCL. Instead of having Tommy John Surgery Tanaka decided to rest his arm for six weeks.

It was speculated that Tanaka would opt for the surgery, but he has avoided the surgery thus far and continues to pitch with the small tear.

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Tanaka became the Yankees ace during the 2015 season as he helped the Bombers back to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Tanaka pitched the wild card game for the Yankees, a game in which the Yankees lost 3-0.

Tanaka had a terrific season in 2016 and it was the first time in his career that he was not placed on the DL. He finished third in CY Young voting that year. The one problem that Tanaka has not been able to get rid of is the home run ball. In 2015 Tanaka allowed 25 homers, in 2016 he allowed 22 homers, and last season 35.

Tanaka started his third opening day last season but was overtaken by Luis Severino as the Yankees ace. Tanaka had a decent year, but was not dominant. The best word to describe his season was a roller coaster. The best game of the season for Tanaka was his 14 strikeout performance against the Rays on July 28.

In the playoffs, Tanaka did not start the Wild Card game for the Yankees as he did in 2015. Tanaka pitched in three games during the Yankees postseason run last year. He pitched game three against the Indians in the ALDS and shut them down as he allowed Greg Bird to hit that historic homerun off of Andrew Miller.

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Tanaka went on to pitch two games against the Astros in the ALCS and he was dominant in both starts. Tanaka clearly had confidence in the playoffs and showed how special a pitcher he can be.

Tanaka had the option of opting out of his contract with the Yankees this off-season, but he decided to opt-in to his deal. Tanaka will start the second game of the season in Toronto on March 30th.

If Tanaka can pitch like he did in the playoffs and keep his homers down, he can put together a fantastic year for the Yankees. Rest is the key for Tanaka as he does better with six days of rest instead of the usual five days

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