Tanaka schoen, he finally signed! As you all know by now, Masahiro Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees Of The One Borough Where No One Can Afford A Yankee Ticket. Buster Olney said that Tanaka once threw 160 pitches then pitched the next day. Sounds like Joe Torre could’ve made Tanaka a great reliever. People who know a lot more about Tanaka than I do say he compares more favorably to Hiroki Kuroda than Yu Darvish. I’m assuming those people could’ve also compared him to non-Asian pitchers, which isn’t meant as a subtle accusation of racism until you see those same people compare Tanaka to a 185-pound spicy tuna roll, drop The Cove references and say they’re wondering how Tanaka will adjust without a TV station dedicated entirely to wacky game shows. Those people have some nerve — or noive if you’re reading in a Curly voice. So, what can we expect from Masahiro Tanaka for 2014 fantasy baseball?
The Asian pitcher comparisons are because Tanaka doesn’t have Darvish’s stuff, but he does have Kuroda’s — low 90’s fastball, splitter and great command. People — there they are again! — say Tanaka will have the best splitter in the majors from Day 1. It’s not exactly like saying he has the best fastball though, because there’s not that many splitters in the majors. There’s more splinters (when Billy Butler sits on a less-than-sturdy bench). Tanaka will get out major league hitters with the splitter and a solid slider. Concerns over past shoulder injuries have surfaced, but Tanaka’s agent has screamed, “Stop wollying, it’s all good!” so we won’t worry. Brucely, any pitcher can get hurt so you should always take drafting pitching with a grain of salt. I’m guessing Tanaka will be drafted prior to where I’m going to rank him. I don’t love any unknown factor when drafting a high-ranked starter. Just not worth it. For 2014, I’ll give him the projections of 14-8/3.39/1.11/187.