Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka agrees to a two-year contract to return to the Rakuten Eagles of the Nippon Baseball League in Japan. The amount of the contract is not known. Tanaka has spent the entirety of his seven-year career with the New York Yankees. His overall record is 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts.
Throughout his career, Tanaka has been a reliable, steady pitcher. Though not the ace many expected him to be when he came over from Japan, he has still proven to be a solid number two pitcher with flashes of ace-like stuff.
Coming to America
From 2007 through 2013, Tanaka played for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League. During that span, Tanaka earned a record of 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in 175 games. More impressive, however, is the amount of innings pitched. Over the course of those seven seasons, Tanaka threw an unbelievable 1,315 innings. 2013 was Tanaka’s final season in Japan. That year, he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA leading the Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title.
In January of 2014, Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million free-agent deal with the Yankees. At the time, it was the fifth-largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history. Not only that, but the Yankees also posted a $20 million fee just to simply negotiate with Tanaka. Needless to say, he was a major priority for the Yankees.
The Yankees have only missed the postseason twice since Tanaka has been on the staff. It is in the playoffs where Tanaka really shines. Before 2020, Tanaka owned a 1.32 ERA in 41 innings. Also, in those seven starts, he never allowed more than two runs. Without a doubt, Tanaka was one of the best postseason pitchers in MLB history.
Unfortunately, the 2020 playoffs were rough for Tanaka. He managed to pitch only eight innings in two starts allowing 11 runs and 13 hits. However, compared to the rest of his career, the 2020 postseason is an outlier and shouldn’t be considered the norm
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