Although just three games into his Yankee career, Tanaka has 28 strikeouts in just 22 innings, a staggering ratio even for the best strikeout pitchers the major leagues has seen in recent memory. If it continues, the Yankees may have made their greatest free agent acquisition ever. After all, Tanka is just 25 years old and could be their number one starter for the next decade.
If you think I'm getting ahead of myself, consider this. He was 24-0 in Japan last year and pitched to a 2.30 in over 1,300 innings across his seven year career. He throws an unhittable splitter that comes into the batter looking like a fastball and then drops off the table. Watching this guy pitch so far, he makes hitters look like little leaguers. And because he does so effortlessly, Tanaka could become one of those throwback pitchers that can lead the league with complete game victories and make a mockery over what is foolishlessly defined as a quality start (6 innings, 3 earned runs).
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the four hour game that parades in one middle reliever after another. Tanaka is the anti-LaRussa in this regard, appearing disappointed if manager Joe Girardi takes him out of a game.
Tanaka leads a formidable Yankee pitching staff that will make fans forget about some of the age (Jeter, Texiera, Ichiro, Soriano, Roberts, Beltran, etc), weakened offense, and subpar infield defense. You could make the case that CC Sabathia is their fourth best starter this year, a very encouraging thought for the Yankees, a team more accustomed to being Bombers than Hurlers.