Masahiro Tanaka Signing Takes New York Yankees' Rotation to the Next Level

By Alex Chitty
C.C Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

With the signing of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees now have one of the best starting rotations in MLB. The Yankees and the Japanese star agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal today, solidifying the Bombers’ pitching staff and capping off a fantastic offseason for Brian Cashman. 2014 is going to be an exciting season for fans as the talent that the Yankees’ pitching staff possesses should strike fear in opposing lineups.

There is no mistaking that C.C. Sabathia is still the ace of New York’s rotation. Despite a down year for C.C. in 2013, there are high expectations for the big lefty heading into this season. Sabathia looks healthy and is saying all of the right things, which is good because the Yankees need his arm as well as his leadership at the top of the rotation.

Pitching in the No. 2 spot, Hiroki Kuroda seems to be getting better with age. Kuroda posted a 3.31 ERA in 2013 and was one of the most reliable players on the team throughout the course of the season. At 38, Hiroki may be in the final years of his career but continues to pitch at a high level. He teams up with Sabathia to give the Yankees two experienced workhorses who will guide the rest of the rotation through the season.

The order of the back end of the rotation isn’t in concrete as of yet, but it consists of the newly signed Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova.

Tanaka posted a 1.27 ERA and a 24-0 record in 27 starts in 2013. Although scouts are hesitant to compare his “stuff” to Texas RangersYu Darvish, it is said that Tanaka simply knows how to pitch. His numbers attest to that. Over the course of his seven-year career, Tanaka has recorded a 2.30 ERA with 1238 strikeouts to just 275 walks. If he can pitch anywhere near the level that he did in Japan, Tanaka will serve as the eventual ace of the Yankees’ rotation. For now he will most likely be a No. 3 or No. 4.

The name that most people forget to mention when discussing the Yankees’ arms is Ivan Nova. Nova is only 27 and has already experienced a lot at the big league level. He has posted a 38-20 record with a 4.04 ERA through four years of service in MLB. At times Nova has been the most reliable arm in the Yankees’ rotation. If he can pitch like he did in 2012 when he won 15 consecutive games, Nova will make this Yankees team that much more dangerous.

Michael Pineda is the wildcard of the rotation. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Pineda was an All-Star in 2011, the season before the Yankees signed him. During that season, the rookie sensation struck out 25 percent of the batters he faced on his way to a 9-10 record and 3.74 ERA. Pineda, at 22, was throwing in the mid-90s and had command to go with it. He is still only 25, so if he can get back to the level that he performed in 2011, Pineda can be a dangerous arm for the Yankees for years to come.

As can be seen, this Yankees’ rotation has all the talent needed to win games in MLB. New York has a good mixture of veteran leadership and young excitement. Barring any setbacks, these arms can take the Yankees all the way to the promised land in 2014.

Alex Chitty is a New York Yankees writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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