I think the biggest surprise so far this season for the New York Yankees is that a team full of stars isn’t producing quality production, except for one.
It is the biggest relief when Masahiro Tanaka joins the lineup for a game. Yes, Tanaka was already expected to be a great player that would be a huge asset to the Yankees when they signed him to a seven- year, $155 million contract in January, but I don’t think people thought it would be to this extent. Tanaka is 9-1 with a 2.02 ERA. He consistently saves the Yankees from skids such as against the New York Mets and the Oakland Athletics.
I would say his most impressive game this season was the last game against the Athletics’ in which he battled through Oakland’s lineup, allowing only five hits and one walk, striking out four. The Athletics’ made him throw 26 pitches in both the fourth and fifth innings, driving his pitch count up and making him work the hardest he’s had to since joining the team.
Although according to the numbers, his performance during that game seemed mediocre compared to others, having to leave the mound after the sixth, he did help secure a much needed Yankees win. Beyond the numbers during that game, his performance showed his true skill and perseverance as a player.
“That’s what a true ace is,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “A true ace stops losing streaks. There’s not another guy you want out there after losing a few in a row than Tanaka.”
Tanaka was named the American League pitcher of the month for May and is now a frontrunner for the AL All Star League and is a CY Young award favorite. He’s making a huge impact not only on the team, but in the MLB in general.Which was definitely unexpected, at least for his first season with the Yankees.
Fans know that every five days it’s #TanakaTime and they look forward to that. His trending hashtag on Twitter gets fans excited as they show their love for the pitcher.
He is dependable and that’s what makes him the biggest surprise for the Yankees team in 2014. While the big names on the team aren’t producing consistency, quality or even playing at all, Tanaka has been a pleasant surprise as a reliable player. I don’t think the team or the fans were expecting to feel like they had to depend on him to basically carry the team on his back.
“Star power can persuade fans to buy tickets, but only star production keeps them interested.” – Tyler Kepner, The New York Times
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