Masahiro Tanaka is one of the most intriguing players this offseason. The Japanese pitcher went 24-0 in 2013 and is coming over to MLB after a long period of questions about whether his Japanese team would post him. Many Japanese pitchers have been successful since coming over — Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and Hideo Nomo are a few examples — while guys like Hideki Irabu, Kaz Ishii, and to some extent Dice-K Matsuzaka, have had struggles.
Though many expect Tanaka to be an impact pitcher, everyone wonders how well he will do. Former MLB player Andruw Jones was Tanaka’s teammate for Rakuten in Japan last season and compared Tanaka to Darvish, who was a Cy Young contender with the Texas Rangers.
Jones says the two are different types of pitchers, though he expects Tanaka to be successful.
“He didn’t strike a lot of people out like Darvish,” Jones told the New York Post. “He pitched more to contact. He wanted to get guys to hit balls on the ground.
“He can overpower and he can control,” Jones said. “He’s a very competitive guy.”
Jones also believes that Tanaka has proved his is ready for MLB after being the best pitcher in Japan the past two years. He thinks the first year will be tough because it’s an adjustment, but he believes Tanaka has a “good chance” to be successful.
Tanaka should be expected to succeed. Though his strikeouts might not compare to Darvish, he still posted a 1.27 ERA in two of the past three seasons in Japan. He only allowed 10 home runs in 385 innings of the past two seasons. He may not have the same arsenal that Darvish does and, let’s be real, very few people in the world do, but it sure looks like he’s an expert at getting people out.