Friday, April 25, 2014

Is Masahiro Tanaka Vulnerable To The Home Run?

Masahiro Tanaka has made four Major League starts since coming over from Japan to the New York Yankees and are we finally starting to see what we can expect from the 25 year old right hander? We all know about the stats he put up in Japan, 24-0 with a minuscule ERA, but over here it's a whole new ball game. Tanaka has proven that he can make major league hitters look silly with that split finger fastball while racking up strikeouts this season but has Tanaka become vulnerable to the home run ball? For a guy who plays his home games in Yankee Stadium I sure hope not.

Tanaka's debut in the states was against the Toronto Blue Jays and promptly gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Melky Cabrera. In his second start Tanaka gave up a big three run home to the Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Schoop. Tanaka completely shut down the Chicago Cubs but really I think I could at this point, at least over a few innings, and I threw in the 90 MPH range when I was 13 years old. Tanaka had a true test against the Boston Red Sox and gave up back to back home runs to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli thus begging the question, is this becoming a trend?

Tanaka has great stats including a 3-0 record with a 2.15 ERA, 35 strike outs to only two walks, an ERA+ of 189, and a WHIP of 0.818. Tanaka does have a HR/9 ratio of 1.2 though and this is very concerning. I remember all of us were ready to run Phil Hughes out of town for his home run tendencies last season and the seasons prior and his HR/9 ratio was 1.5 in 2013. Take away those eight shut out innings against the Cubs and these numbers would look even worse.

I'm not comparing the two I am just saying this is something we need to keep a close eye on and monitor before it gets out of hand. Tanaka is great and is definitely the real deal but I worry about his home run numbers in a home run friendly Yankee Stadium. Hopefully I am not the only one, but maybe I am.

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