After months of speculation and hype from all ends of the globe, Masahiro Tanaka finally made his debut for the New York Yankees on Friday night. And if one game can mean anything, it is utterly clear that Tanaka is going to not only become the ace of the Yankees this season, but he will be the winner of the Rookie of the Year award.
At the beginning of the game, it appeared that Tanaka was going to be overrun by the Toronto Blue Jays, as Melky Cabrera launched a leadoff home run. The 25-year-old was then able to settle things down for the remainder of the inning, but the Blue Jays were again poised to pounce in the bottom of the second inning, as they had men on second and third with one out and a 3-2 lead.
This moment in the game could have easily rattled the most veteran of starters, but not Tanaka.
For the remainder of the game, it was Tanaka time. The starter only allowed two hits over the next 5.2 innings pitched, and one of these was on a ground ball that Yangervis Solarte should have brought in. Along the way, Tanaka displayed impeccable control on his large arsenal of pitches and a confident demeanor on the mound. If it wasn’t a perfect beginning of the game, the final portion of the game certainly was, and it was fitting that he was awarded the win at the end of a 7-3 Yankees’ victory.
As the season moves forward, it is very obvious that Tanaka will not have his A-game in every start, but he showed on Friday night that he doesn’t always need it in order to be successful. And really with best splitter in the world, he doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. He has a maturity level that belies the fact that he is only 25 years of age, which will be crucial in handling the raucous New York media.
Tanaka overcame obstacles, displayed his full arsenal of pitches and baffled Toronto batters all at the same time. It is now safe to say that he will go on to win at least 15 games, win the Rookie of the Year Award and become the Yankees’ ace before 2014 is done with.