The New York Yankees have gotten excellent play from their new pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees paid $155 million for a 7-year contract to sign in the off season after picking him up from the Japanese Baseball League. Additionally, the Yankees posted a $20 million posting free to Tanaka’s team in Japan. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 in Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka played with them from 2007-2013.
In three games this season for the Yankees, Tanaka is 2-0 with an ERA of 2.05 with 28 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched. This week, Tanaka shutout the Chicago White Sox in pitching 8 innings and giving up just 2 hits while striking out 10 batters. Tanaka was almost un-hittable in the game, as he baffled the White Sox hitters for 8 innings until being pulled from the game after the 8th.
This was Tankaka’s second consecutive game where he struck out 10 batters. Earlier this month, Tanaka struck out 10 batters against the Baltimore Orioles in a 5-4 loss on April 9th. Tanaka pitched 7 innings and gave up 3 runs in that game. He pitched well enough to get the victory, but the Yankees relief pitchers gave up two runs after Tanaka left the game in the 7th, which ruined a potential victory for the 25-year-old Tanaka.
Tanaka’s game against the White Sox was the first this season where Tanaka truly dominated a team, and it was a very good sign because he seems to be getting more comfortable with each game he plays this season. In Tanaka’s first game of the season against the Toronto Bluejays, Tanaka pitched 6 innings in giving up 2 earned runs and striking out 8. It was a good performance, but not nearly as good as his play against the White Sox. Tanaka arguably could be 3-0 right now given how well he’s pitched in each of the games for the Yankees this season.
Tanaka’s 28 strikeouts in his first three games breaks a Yankee record for most strikeouts in the first three games with the team. Tanaka is second place all-time for most strikeouts to start a career in the Major Leagues behind Stephen Strasberg, who had 32 strikeouts in his first 3 games for the Washington Nationals in 2010.