Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka
30-Year-Old PitcherSP
New York Yankees
2019 Fantasy Outlook
While his strikeout and walk rates remain strong, the home runs have become a glaring issue. Tanaka has given up a whopping 60 long balls over the past two seasons. He trimmed his HR/9 slightly in 2018, but his 1.44 mark was still poor, and his opponents' hard-hit rate jumped to 37.3% (from 31.4%). Nine of the 25 homers Tanaka served up in 2018 came in just 33 innings during his third time through opposing orders -- he had a 7.91 ERA the third time through, compared to a 2.70 ERA the first time through and a 2.52 ERA the second time through. He endured a similar times-through-the-order penalty in 2017, and given the quality of the Yankees' bullpen, it would make sense if they finally implemented a more strict restriction on Tanaka moving forward. We may be looking at 170 or so innings even if he stays healthy for the full season. Thankfully, five-and-dive pitchers on the Yankees can still rack up a good number of wins. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees in January of 2014. Contract includes player options for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Goes six strong
PNew York Yankees
May 23, 2019
Tanaka allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out five across six innings Thursday against the Orioles. He did not factor into the decision.
The one run Tanaka allowed was partially self-inflicted, as he allowed a leadoff single to Nunez, who advanced to second base on a wild pitch before reaching third on a Tanaka throwing error. Otherwise, he was solid, holding the Orioles to only one-extra base hit while generating 16 swinging strikes on 95 total pitches. Early on this season, Tanaka has shown an improved ability to limit home runs by surrendering only 1.1 HR/9, helping him to a 2.94 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across 64.1 innings. He'll look to maintain the strong results in his next start, currently scheduled for Tuesday at home versus San Diego.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .248 720 179 39 166 28 2 28
Since 2017vs Right .246 925 232 52 212 59 0 40
2019vs Left .268 119 25 7 30 7 2 4
2019vs Right .208 139 33 8 27 6 0 4
2018vs Left .236 282 67 15 61 10 0 8
2018vs Right .243 353 92 20 80 22 0 17
2017vs Left .252 319 87 17 75 11 0 16
2017vs Right .261 433 107 24 105 31 0 19
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 3.40 1.14 201.0 16 11 0 9.6 1.9 1.2
Since 2017Away 4.74 1.21 197.2 12 10 0 8.9 2.2 1.9
2019Home 2.52 1.15 35.2 2 1 0 8.8 2.0 0.8
2019Away 3.45 1.08 28.2 1 2 0 7.2 2.2 1.6
2018Home 4.09 1.31 70.1 5 5 0 8.7 2.3 1.2
2018Away 3.47 0.98 85.2 7 1 0 9.6 1.8 1.7
2017Home 3.22 1.01 95.0 9 5 0 10.6 1.5 1.4
2017Away 6.48 1.50 83.1 4 7 0 8.9 2.7 2.2
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Stat Review
How does Masahiro Tanaka compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 40 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
91.4 mph
Left On Base
Exit Velocity
89.7 mph
Spin Rate
1997 rpm
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
Swinging Strike
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Tanaka was expected to anchor the Yankees' rotation last season in advance of a big payday in free agency, but he instead opted into his contract with the team for 2018 after the bottom completely fell out in the first half. The 29-year-old's season-long numbers never completely recovered from an especially wretched May, saddling Tanaka with his worst ERA in four MLB seasons. A lack of command was the main issue, as Tanaka served up 35 homers and was frequently hit hard when he did keep the ball in the yard. Fortunately, Tanaka regained velocity and unlocked the swing-and-miss stuff he lost while pitching through elbow injuries the last two seasons, generating a 15.1-percent swinging-strike rate that ranked third among qualified starters. That bodes well for Tanaka's chances of returning to peak form for the balance of 2018, especially since he seemed to turn a corner in the second half of last season. Following the All-Star break, Tanaka submitted a 3.77 ERA while holding hitters to a .229/.267/.405 line.
Tanaka has perpetually been on injury watch since electing to forgo Tommy John surgery in 2014 and pitching through a partially torn UCL, and although he was shut down for the final week of the season with a slight forearm strain, the team's ace made it through 199.2 innings and 31 starts in 2016. He ranked third in the American League among qualified starters in ERA (3.07), fifth in WHIP (1.08), and was fourth in K/BB (4.6). The Japanese import showed some personal improvement keeping the ball in the yard - a problem that plagued him in 2015 - and posted a career-best 14 wins. There were some aspects of his game that left something to be desired, as he struck out batters at a career-low rate and walked them at a career-high clip, but the season mostly trended in the right direction. The injury specter will continue to hang over him, but as long as he's healthy, Tanaka figures to have another productive campaign in 2017.
There were major concerns around Tanaka entering 2015 and while he didn’t make it through unscathed (late-Apr. DL stint for forearm strain cost him a month-plus), he was upright and pitching well for three quarters of the season. He didn’t need the Tommy John surgery that many believe is inevitable so a lot of the same concerns will linger again this year. Tanaka did have his right elbow scoped for bone spurs in October, but the partial tear remains. His performance was a few ticks worse in the spots one would expect: fewer strikeouts, more home runs. Otherwise, he was the same very good pitcher we saw in 2014. Sometimes it’s lazy to just take the average of two seasons as a guideline for expectations, but it works here. Both of Tanaka’s seasons have included great fundamental skills, a bit of a home run issue, and a substantial DL stint. Prospective owners should plan for more of the same until we see something different.
Tanaka came in with exorbitant expectations and actually found a way to outdo them, taking the league by storm with a 2.10 ERA in his first 16 starts. His next two starts were uncharacteristically poor outings and eventually resulted in elbow inflammation that sidelined him for the next two and a half months. He somehow avoided what felt like an inevitable trip under the knife and returned for a pair of late-September starts, though the second of them was a shellacking in Boston. Now with a potential Tommy John surgery hanging over his head, Tanaka will again be one of the most polarizing players at the draft table, albeit for markedly different reasons this time around. Drafting him sight unseen will require a significant discount, but even seeing him in spring training won’t alleviate the worry surrounding him in 2015. Tread cautiously. The payoff is high, but the price won’t always be lowered enough to take the risk.
Tanaka, the top pitcher in Japan last season, agreed to a seven-year, $155 million contract to play for the Yankees in 2014. When Tanaka signed his 2013 contract with Rakuten in the Japanese Pacific League, he expressed his desire to move to MLB prior to qualifying for free agency. He went on to have a legendary 2013 season, going 24-0 and leading the Rakuten to its first NPB championship. His video game numbers (24-0, 1.27 ERA and 183:32 K:BB in 212 IP) in 2013 are well documented, but what might get overlooked is that those numbers aren't really out of the ordinary for Tanaka. In 2012 he missed a few starts with some muscle strains, but he still managed a 1.87 ERA in 173 IP, with 169 strikeouts against just 19 walks. Tanaka passes the eyeball tests as well. He is a sturdy 6-2, 200, and features three pitches that project as above average: a fastball that runs from 90-96 mph, a sharp splitter at 85-90 mph and a sweeping slider. His only concerns are his workload in Japan -- Tanaka threw 160 pitches in Game 6 of the Japan Series before closing the clincher -- and a strikeout rate that has dropped in each of the last three seasons, from 9.6 K/9 in 2011 to 7.8 in 2013, but those aspects appear minor given his body of work. While Tanaka's new home park isn't the best environment for a pitcher, it hasn't limited fellow Japanese native Hiroki Kuroda from having two strong season in the Bronx. All signs point to Tanaka also making a strong transition to MLB.
Tanaka may be the best pitcher in Japan after going 10-4 with a 1.87 ERA and 169:19 K:BB ratio in 172 innings last season. He told his team he wants to play in MLB and the Rakuten Eagles could post him after the 2013 season. He'll be just 24 years old next season, so he could be a major impact player in MLB and worth adding in keeper leagues where allowed.
Tanaka may be Japanese baseball's best young prospect. The 21 year-old got off to a roaring 7-0 start to the 2009 season, and eventually finished at 15-6 with a 2.33 ERA. Tanaka has always had an electric arm, and learned how to dominate with it this season. Still, we may not see him come to the U.S. until at least 2016.
More Fantasy News
Set for Thursday's start
PNew York Yankees
May 21, 2019
Tanaka (shin) has been confirmed as the probable starter for Thursday's game in Baltimore, Erik Boland of Newsday reports.
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On track for next start
PNew York Yankees
Lower Leg
May 19, 2019
The Yankees hope Tanaka (shin) will be ready to take the hill for his next scheduled start Thursday in Baltimore, Pete Caldera of The Bergen Record reports.
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Suffers shin contusion
PNew York Yankees
Lower Leg
May 18, 2019
Tanaka was pulled from Saturday's game against the Rays with a right shin contusion, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.
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Exits with possible ankle injury
PNew York Yankees
May 18, 2019
Tanaka left Saturday's game against the Rays after throwing six shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. His exit came after he threw just 88 pitches and after taking a groundball off his right foot or ankle, so it may have been injury-related, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.
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Gets win in dominant outing
PNew York Yankees
May 12, 2019
Tanaka (3-3) gave up one run on five hits while striking out seven through seven innings taking the win over the Rays on Sunday.
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