Masahiro Tanaka spun another gem for the New York Yankees yesterday against the Minnesota Twins, solidifying himself as the ace of the team. Another eight innings and only one run allowed, just pure brilliance. Sure, there were doubters, I even doubted him, but he has lived up to all the expectations and then some. It is hard to ever argue that a player is worth $150 million or more, but there is certainly a case to make for Tanaka's value as being under appreciated.
The Yankees are completely reliant on this guy, especially because of the devastating injuries that Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixiera are going through. It isn't just the skill with Tanaka, it is the mindset. He really believes he is going to win every time he starts and he refuses to lose every time he starts. Other than glimpses form Matt Harvey last year, this mindset has been void from many New York athletes over the last several years. Tanaka's splitter is one of a kind, and nobody can touch it right now. The great thing about this pitch is that he throws it for a ball, but in great spots. Until hitters learn to lay off this pitch, he will have positive counts and look to take advantage of that.
You could make a case that the Yankees could be called the New York Tanakas right now because he is their entire team. He is just that good, and nobody seems to be getting in his way. The scary thing is that he is only 24 years old! The question is, can he win 25 games? If he can reach this accolade, it will bode well for the Yankees going into September. Without Tanaka, they are more of a .500 ball club right now, but add in all of Tanaka's victories, and they may find themselves in the thick of a pennant race.
One things for certain, Tanaka will not pitch at this level all year, so other players better start to perform for the bombers...