2018 Pinstripe Preview: Masahiro Tanaka
There is a lot of speculation as to what type of season Masahiro Tanaka will have in 2018. The Japanese right hander had a dreadful start to the 2018 season, but managed to turn it around at the most important time of the year. Tanaka went 2-1 in the postseason posting a 0.90 ERA in 20 IP. He allowed only 10 hits and two earned runs in that time while striking out 18.
|Photo Credit: Boston Herald|
Tanaka entered the 2017 season as the ace of the rotation, but it did not take long for him to lose that role to Luis Severino, who had a breakout year, leading to his first All-Star Game selection. Tanaka struggled all throughout the 2017 regular season posting a career worst 4.74 ERA and 41 walked batters. Despite this he still was able to post 13 wins and a career high 194 strikeouts. The long ball was Tanaka's main weakness as he allowed 35 of them. As I said before Tanaka flourished in postseason and was a huge part of the Yankees success on that miraculos run. Overall, while the season was not great for Tanaka, he did have some positives to reflect on, and still showed signs that he could still be the ace of an MLB team.
While spring training can be a useful tool to evaluate some players, you can not get to hung up on Spring Training stats, and that is why Tanaka's slow start this spring does not worry me too much. While he is 0-3 with a 7.24 ERA in only 13.2 IP, his most recent start was by far his best, and he was starting to look like that pitcher we fell in love with again during the postseason. Tanaka allowed just one run, on five hits and zero walks in 5.2 IP, and just looked more confident out on the hill.
I would say that starting the year as the number two guy in the rotation as opposed to being the ace will be good for Tanaka. He will not enter the year with too much pressure on him to come out and be the guy. I expect a bounce back year from Tanaka, and for him to re-establish himself as an elite pitcher in the MLB.
One other thing to keep in mind about Tanaka is that you never know about his elbow and how long that will hold up, the Yankees and their fans just need to hope for the best.
MLB.com ranked the Yankees the seventh best rotation in baseball, and if the Yankees want to live up to that or even surpass it, Tanaka will have a huge part in that.
Article by: Curtis Rattner