Thursday, May 15, 2014

Master at Work!

Like any baseball fan, when the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka for megabucks I noticed.  He had a phenomenal record in Japan – 24-0 in regular season games last year – but how would he do on this side of the Pacific?

I’ve been waiting for a chance to see him in action, and it came yesterday when Tanaka started against the Mets and the game was on ESPN.  I was more than a little impressed.

Tanaka pitched a full nine innings, gave up no runs, four hits, struck out eight and walked none.  His record is now 6-0, and he’s near the top in all pitching stats – wins, earned runs 2.17, strikeouts 66, and only 7 walks in 58 innings.

But it’s not the statistics that impress me most.  His control is amazing.  He only had a 3 ball count twice in yesterday’s game.  So he rarely walks anyone.  And he does this without pitching strikes.  His percentage of pitches in the strike zone is among the lowest in the league.  So if his pitches are not in the strike zone how is he doing all this?  A combination of pitches that twist and turn and dip so they look to the batter like they are good to hit, but when they arrive they aren’t where the batter thought they would be. 

All those pitches plus guile.  His mastery is mental as well as physical.  He is controlling the game.  He gets in the head of his opponents.  Usually in a baseball game after the batters have faced a pitcher once or twice they will figure out what’s coming and hit better.  But not with Tanaka.  His effectiveness improves as the game goes on.  And it isn’t just luck.

It is a Master at Work!


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