Yankees success in 2017 rests in Masahiro Tanaka’s hands

Spring Training is a time for ballplayers to shake off the rust and go into the season in a dominant state.

But if you’re ace Masahiro Tanaka, it’s almost as if you don’t need Spring Training.

Tanaka made three starts for the Yankees this Spring and has yet to allow a run. On Saturday, Tanaka pitched four perfect innings while striking out seven, including the first six batters of the ballgame. Tanaka credited having the two-seam fastball as a go-to pitch while scouts were impressed with his off-speed pitches.

“I’d love to see him take that stuff into the regular season,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said after the Yankees came away with a 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

Tanaka continues to dominate in Spring Training, and his recent work is making fans forget he’s actually pitching with a slight tear in his elbow. Despite the tear, Tanaka hopes he can pitch at least 220 to 230 innings in 2017. Tanaka was one out shy of reaching the 200 inning mark in 2016.

Even though Tanaka dominated against the Detroit Tigers lineup, he reminded reporters that the best players are currently playing in the World Baseball Classic. In other words, the stats for this start meant nothing to him.

“Obviously you want the results,” Tanaka said via his interpreter. “But you can’t just look at that. We have the WBC — not to downgrade anybody, but a lot of the good players are playing in the WBC. So the guys that you’re facing might be a little bit different, too. So in that regard, it wouldn’t be really safe to look just at the results.”

If Tanaka continues to dominate into the regular season, he could be one of the deciding factors to the Yankees having a good season.

All we can do is hope. And if everything goes the Yankees way, they could be a force to be reckoned against their American League East rivals.

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8 Responses to Yankees success in 2017 rests in Masahiro Tanaka’s hands

  1. enter42 says:

    So is Tanaka really going to opt out of his final 3yrs/$66mil? I sure hope they don't lose him but I also hope they don't have to extend him too far just to keep him. So humble, so talented.

  2. Terry says:

    Still my favorite ML pitcher. To watch him set up hitters early in the count and then put them away is a thing of beauty. When he's on he, to me, is the best. The younger guys should really be paying attention when he's pitching and learn the art of their craft. Because I feel our season will rest with their success. One pitcher can't pull you through the marathon by himself. But he can be the ace, set the tone, and pull you through the playoff sprint. I really hope he stays in pinstripes

  3. tom says:

    Too young to be Mike Mussina. lol. I surely hope he frequents 2 seam more than splitter because if 2 seam is efficient, he can go beyond 7th inning before reaching pitch limit per start. Last year, he was taken out of good game too many times.

    I am eagerly curious about him opting out because of Ontani. Will Yankees go with proven veteran with "tick tock" elbow for more money or the pitcher who never pitches in MLB for cheaper?

    • Jerry says:

      Why not both, Lord knows we need pitching. And I would let him hit also…. He may opt out, but just to cover all the bases. Maybe we extend him a couple more years if we have to.

  4. Olie says:

    He is a stud! I would extend him now, Time has come for Yanks to step up to plate so to speak.

  5. ERIC PELLIS says:

    It shows you how much Pineda and Severino probably don't even pay attention to how Tanaka sets up hitters. What a shame that these guys heads can't match their arms. I don't understand why people are still confused about Pineda. It is so simple, he has no clue upstairs and that is it.

  6. Nunzio says:

    What Tanaka has in talent shows why a staff needs a guy that can think his way through each pitch , his command is something to watch , when other's struggle he seems to be relaxed and does so with an injury …… Pineda has to come up big time and so does CC we need so much more from these two but I honestly think we are going to be disappointed, I hope I'm wrong but there best days may be well behind them.

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