May 15, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka tossed a complete-game shutout against the Mets last night, improving to 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA eight starts into his rookie season.
I watched the game and was incredibly impressed with how Tanaka was able to keep Mets hitters off balance all night. His slider and splitter are huge weapons, but when he needed it Tanaka was also able to blow an above-average fastball past hitters in key spots. He’s the real deal.
It’s early to start breaking down numbers, but so far Tanaka has a 66/7 K/BB ratio in 58 innings. That would be by far the best strikeout-to-walk ratio ever for a 25-year-old pitcher who qualified for the ERA title:
MASAHIRO TANAKA 2014 9.43 Ben Sheets 2004 8.25 Walter Johnson 1913 6.39 Jose Lima 1998 5.28 James Shields 2007 5.11 Johan Santana 2004 4.91 Zack Greinke 2009 4.75 Roger Clemens 1988 4.69 Ervin Santana 2008 4.55 Pedro Martinez 1997 4.55
That’s a helluva list to be sitting on top of. Tanaka’s strikeout rate of 10.2 per nine innings would also rank sixth all-time among 25-year-olds behind only Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Nolan Ryan, Tim Lincecum, and Yu Darvish.
New York paid $155 million over seven years for Tanaka, so it’s not as if they got some sort of incredible bargain, but that price tag factored in at least some uncertainty about whether he’d be an elite pitcher in the majors or merely a good one. Eight starts are still only eight starts, but my guess is that Tanaka’s price tag would be closer to $200 million now.
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