Pitchers are not as valued as they used to be when it comes to stats. Figure this, though, if Masahiro Tanaka wins 20 games last season, the New York Yankees are in the playoffs.
Tanaka is fully capable of performing like an ace and his repertoire was on full display in his most recent spring training outing. The Yankees Opening Day starter fanned the first six Detroit Tigers batters he faced and was flawless through four innings.
After his start, Tanaka told the YES Network’s, Jack Curry, he believes his outing could’ve been better. Last season the Yankees missed the playoffs by five games and Tanaka won 14 games. If he’s even better in 2017, the club could find itself returning to the postseason.
In his potential opt-out season, it’s crucial for Tanaka to raise his dominance and durability to the next level. Should he choose to opt-out, it’s crucial for the team to decide if they want to give him another four years and $88 million through his age 35 season.
Through three seasons in the Bronx, Tanaka has shown why he can be an ace but also leaves fans wanting him to rear back for a little extra in the tank. The 2014 season saw him earn May AL Pitcher of the Month and All-Star honors, along with a top five finish in Rookie of the Year voting. His 2015 campaign was also solid and included a representative postseason outing. Last season Tanaka reached career highs in wins, strikeouts, starts and innings pitched, placing seventh in AL Cy Young voting.
In 14 of his 31 starts, Tanaka went seven-plus innings. The Yankees went 12-2 in those starts. Overall the club was 23-8 in Tanaka’s starts last season.
If Tanaka gives the Yankees three to four more starts and or 20 more innings pitched this season, it could push them into the postseason.