The New York Yankees made another big signing this offseason. They acquired the services of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka with a seven-year $155 million deal. After the Yankees missed the playoffs, they opened their wallets and signed some big-name players to fill in some holes. Even with all the hitters, it will mean nothing without a good pitching staff.
Tanaka will most likely take the role as the Yankees’ No. 2 starter behind C.C. Sabathia. There are many questioning whether the Yankees overpaid (as usual) for a pitcher with a lot of innings already under his belt. Between the ages of 18 and 19, Tanaka accumulated 159 innings pitched. He’s already at 1,315 innings at the age of 25.
Major League Baseball does not have the best track record when it comes to Japanese pitchers. Hiroki Kuroda has done well throughout his career. Daisuke Matsuzaka was a bust for the Boston Red Sox. He logged just over 1,400 innings in eight seasons. Yu Darvish, after an average 2012, led the league in strikeouts. He averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He also pitched over 1,200 innings in Japan. These large innings totals can come back to hurt these pitchers later in their careers.
Tanaka went 24-0 in 27 starts with a career-low 1.27 ERA last season. He has eclipsed 200 strikeouts just once in his career and has a career 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. These stats resemble Kuroda more than Darvish. However, Kuroda has pitched well for the Yankees.
There are multiple websites that have Tanaka ranked as a top-30 pitcher, one site has him in the top-25. There are a lot of questions surrounding his longevity, but there’s no denying his effectiveness on the mound. He should be drafted as a No. 3 starting pitcher. It would be tough to rely on him as your No. 2 pitcher. He has the skills to finish with at least 200 IP, a 14-8 record, 150 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA.