After a dominant spring training, Masahiro Tanaka validated all the hype.
Tanaka registered eight strikeouts on Saturday night, while only allowing six hits and two earned runs with walks over seven innings. If you ask me, that's quite an impressive outing for the MLB newcomer.
He was completely in command, manipulating the strike zone and keeping the Blue Jay hitters off guard with his phenomenal slider and the equally impressive splitter, which was used to record the majority of his strikeouts.
And those aren't the only devastating pitches he showed off. He threw his breaking ball around, which led to twenty-three strikes out of thirty-four attempts and resulted in four whiffs out of thirteen swings.
The fact that Tanaka was able to pitch through seven innings in his very first game pitching in an MLB regular season game proves his durability and endurance is top notch. He already looks like a workhorse in the making.
His demeanour on the mound was eerily calm, and his presence on the mound was authoritative and powerful.
He looked like he had no fear, and that often factors into a hitters' approach at the plate. Hitters constantly try to read pitchers, and solve them before they even take their first swing.
But Tanaka was already a step ahead; he had already solved them. His eyes were focused, and once they were locked in, it was over. He had recorded his out.
More impressive than anything else, Tanaka's resilience stood out from the very beginning. On his very first at bat, he allowed a home run to Melky Cabrera, and an inning later allowed two more runs-- one earned, one unearned.
But he kept going and continued to rely on his wide array of pitches to get results. He never doubted himself for a second. He worked, and worked, and after a few innings, he more than made up for his first two. Masahiro Tanaka proved he was the real deal.
It's rare that a pitcher makes such an imprint on viewers after their first day's work. In fact, it's essentially impossible. No one pitcher can truly be judged, positively or negatively, after their debut.
Even knowing that Tanaka played professionally in Japan and ruled, there is no telling how his skills are going to translate to the Major League Baseball system in the long run. This game could be a fluke.
But Masahiro Tanaka did something different on his debut that most fail to do; he combined almost every single ideal element of a great pitcher and compressed it into one outing.
Through his variation of pitches, his command of the strike zone, his outstanding poise, his unalterable focus, and his controlling presence, he showed the world what a natural talent he really is.
Remember, this is only the beginning. And that's scary.
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