If you ask any Yankees fan how they believe Masahiro Tanaka is doing this season, they would probably say that he’s earned every penny of his contract, that he’s gone above and beyond and has given the Yankees the lift they so desperately needed. However, Tanaka wouldn’t agree with every Yankee fan out there that said he’s done a phenomenal job. Just yesterday as the player of the game he said he pitched “okay” this season, which is obviously an understatement. Tanaka is hard on himself, probably harder than Andy Pettitte was on himself when he pitched in pinstripes. However, Derek Jeter knows Tanaka is hard on himself simply because he’s a perfectionist.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Jeter said. “But he expects perfection.”
The only time this season Tanaka smiled after a game was when he pitched the shutout against the New York Mets at Citi Field. He was close to another shutout last night, but that was ruined when Robinson Cano hit a two-run shot to bring the Mariners within two runs. Tanaka’s not perfect, but he’s been darn close and he’s earned the respect of his teammates and coaches.
“He’s really good. He’s been an anchor for us.” David Robertson said when asked about Tanaka. “He’s been that horse that you can rely upon. Especially since CC’s been gone and losing Big Mike early – and Mike was throwing real well – he’s been really good. He’s been composed, and he stays in the strike zone.”
Before the season, Tanaka was projected as a number three starter just to lower the expectation level. Well, the expectation level has risen and Tanaka’s teammates are more than impressed. He’s already breaking records and winning Pitcher of the Month awards but this could just be the beginning to a great career for him.
“We were just talking about it in the training room,” Mark Teixeira said. “Just when you think he’s starting to slow down a little, the last two guys, he got a little upset, and took care of them. If he keeps this up, he’s going to have one of the greatest first years in baseball of any pitcher who’s ever played this game.”