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Yankees should be cautiously optimistic about Tanaka’s outing

DETROIT – Overshadowed by the New York Yankees incredible offensive performance on Tuesday night, Masahiro Tanaka delivered a quality start for his team in the 13-4 rout over the Detroit Tigers.

For much of the season, Tanaka has been mediocre at best and a disappointment to the Yankees. Luis Severino has stepped into the role of “ace”, but Tanaka looked impressive in his performance against the Tigers. He allowed just six hits and three earned runs over seven innings of action, while also striking out four.

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Tanaka was a pitcher who dominated in his first three seasons as a starting pitcher in the MLB, with his highest ERA being 3.51 in 2015. This year, the former Cy Young candidate has posted a 4.86 ERA while losing 10 of his 24 games started.

Based on Tanaka’s game log this season, his best starts come when he induces a lot of ground balls and strikes out batters.

Despite his quality start against Detroit, there is still reason to be skeptical of Tanaka. Usually, the righty depends on his splitter to induce a lot of ground balls, but that was not the case on Tuesday. He allowed 13 fly balls, a season high, and one of those ended up in the bleachers for a home run. In addition to the home run allowed last night, Tanaka has allowed a homer in six of his last seven outings.

The home run allowed to Nick Castellanos came on a pitch that was hung out and over the plate.

In Tanaka’s best start of the season, he allowed just three hits and induced 17 grounds balls in the shutout victory over the Boston Red Sox.

In his best start of the season, Tanaka utilized his splitter very effectively.

Ultimately, it was a good sign that he worked so efficiently against the Tigers, but keeping the ball on the ground is a key to Tanaka’s success going forward.