It took only three starts for New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to look like an ace and etch his name into the MLB record books.
Tanaka turned in his first truly dominant performance Wednesday since coming to America and signing a $155 million deal with the Yankees. He struck out 10, allowed only two hits (both bunts) and kept the Chicago Cubs off the scoreboard in the Yankees' 3-0 win. In doing so, he became the most dominating new pitcher to arrive in MLB since Stephen Strasburg in 2010.
The fact that Tanaka's gem came against the Chicago Cubs, another of his suitors when he was sold to the U.S. by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan, only added to the Cubs' misery Wednesday. Tanaka chose The Big Apple over The Windy City, and he'll be the toast of the town in NYC soon enough if he continues to build on this early success.
#TanakaTime #UMad? pic.twitter.com/JOaZ1N1gsf
- Pinstripe Alley (@pinstripealley) April 16, 2014
Let's be honest. It was the Cubs he stifled, the team with the fifth fewest hits so far this season, but that's not enough to tarnish what Tanaka has achieved through his first three starts:
’ This was his second straight 10-strikeout game, and his third with at least eight Ks. He joins Strasburg as the only two pitchers since 1900 to strike out at least eight batters in each of their three first MLB starts, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
’ Tanaka's total of 28 Ks through his first three starts is a record for a Yankees pitcher. Overall, that puts him third all time for most strikeouts in his first three games. Strasburg, for what it's worth, had 32.
’ In that stretch, Tanaka's only walked two batters. Two!
’ In Wednesday's win, Tanaka lowered his ERA to 2.05 and improved his record to 2-0.
More importantly for the Yankees, he's looking like he'll quickly assimilate into the ace pitcher the team needs. So far this season, the Yankees starting pitching ranks 22nd in baseball with a 4.48 ERA. Supposed staff ace C.C. Sabathia h
Future NFL wide receiver Brandin Cooks is known for his speed. He recently made a name for himself with his mouth for comparing his skills to DeSean Jackson's. Now Cooks is showing he has an incredible heart.
Cooks, a former Oregon State standout, will likely make a lot of money in the NFL. He is expected to be selected in the early rounds of this year's draft. After running the fastest time at the NFL scouting combine (4.33 seconds), Cooks received a check for $100,000 from Adidas for clocking the quickest 40-yard dash time.
Instead of making a lavish purchase for himself, Cooks decided to reward his mom, Andrea Cooks, with a new Mercedez-Benz GLK 350.
Brandin was six years old when his father died of a heart attack, and the youngest of three brothers. Andrea Cooks held the family together after her husband's death, and Brandin took care of his mom when he had the chance.
Here is the emotional video Cooks posted on YouTube:
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Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at NFLAnwar@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @AnwarRichardson
Happy Hockey Christmas every!
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday night, so tell your family you'll catch up with them sometime in June. As a reminder, here are the first-round battles:
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Who wins the first round battles? Who wins the big prize?
Glad you asked here are the official Puck Daddy playoff picks from our editors, writers and friends.
Greg Wyshynski, Editor
Bruins in 7 Lightning in 7 Blue Jackets in 6 Rangers in 5
Ducks in 5 Sharks in 7 Avalanche in 5 Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins in 6
Conn Smythe: Patrick Marleau
This actually marks the 40th season that I've selected the Sharks to win the Cup. I know this might seem amazing given my age and the age of that franchise, but that doesn't take into account those years in which I traveled back through time to re-select the Sharks at the start of the playoffs, convinced the outcome would somehow be different due to the Butterfly Effect. Which I believe is the definition of insanity. Or that of a man obsessed with murdering butterflies.
Anyhoo, the Kings series is going to be a war, but home ice wins in the end. I think the top seeds hold serve, with the Avalanche haven't a surprisingly easy time with the Wild due to their goaltending advantage. The Blues getting healthy might throw that Blackhawks series on its ear, but just because you're healthy doesn't mean you can necessarily score in the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets pick is, obviously, my transparent wearing of a heart on my sleeve, as a I feel it would be a franchise-transforming moment for the BJs. But I also think their tenacity, goalte
It is undeniable that we all get excited to attend any sports event. But it is also true that a proper knowledge of the game makes it even more interesting. Motor races are not any exception. You can get the most of it only when you know what is happening. So check out for some proper strategies.
In our preseason starting pitcher rankings, we β the Yahoo fantasy baseball experts aggregate β ranked Yankees Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka as the No. 29 starter overall. Of course, that was before he mowed down 28 batters and posted two wins and a 2.05 ERA in the first three starts of his MLB career.
Since our initial rankings were based mostly on the merits of his impressive seven-year run in the Japanese Leagues, we figured it was prudent to re-assess where we see Tanaka fitting in among the fantasy baseball starting pitcher crowd now that he's actually faced MLB hitters. Here's the experts' take on Tanaka:
Brandon Funston(Tanaka preseason SP rank No. 25) β There have been several Japanese starting pitchers over the past couple decades that have enjoyed at least a successful season or two in the majors (Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Hasashi Iwakuma chief among them). But none can claim a more impressive three-start split to open a major league career than Tanaka.
The strikeouts are what stand out the most. A big question mark of his transition to the majors was whether his K rate from Japan would hold up and clock in above average among starters. I think we have a pretty good answer to that question now. He currently sits among the leaders in swinging strike rate and outside swinging percentage (the rate at which hitters swing at his offerings that are outside the strike zone). Those are encouraging marks and speaks directly to the deception of his arsenal. Three starts is woefully lacking in terms of a meaningful sample size, but because the results of those starts have been so good, I'd certainly be looking at Tanaka as a top 20 starter now. And if he was in the NL, free of the head wind that the AL (East) creates for pitchers, I'd definitely slot him inside the top 15.
Andy Behrens(Preseason SP rank No. 28) β I'm not one to radically re-rank players based on 2-3 weeks of data. I don't do it with guys who start fast, don't do it with guys who start slow. Baseball is a complicated game, one in which small data samples rarely give us an accurate image of a player.
But still, Tanaka was weapons-grade filthy against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. There's no denying it. We're not talking about a degree-of-difficulty matchup, obviously, but there's no bad way to post a line like this: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 10 Ks. He was terrific. The split is as nasty as advertised. Possibly better. Possibly a demon pitch, from the belly of hell itself.
We should have expected Tanaka to have a serious advantage early in the year, of course, as he's facing hitters who've never seen him. No one should be surprised if the second half of his season doesn't quite mirror the first. But this is clearly going to be an excellent campaign, both in reality and in fantasy. If we were re-drafting a Yahoo league today β something we can all still do, by the way β I'd slot him in a deep second-tier of starters, perhaps in the 16-22 range. As good as he's been, he's not the only starter who's outperforming his preseason rank. I can't say he's been more impressive to my eye than, say, Andrew Cashner or Michael Wacha β two guys who pitch in the friendlier league, in friendlier parks.
Dalton Del Don(Preseason SP rank No. 33) β Tanaka looks dominant, posting a 28:2 K:BB ratio over his first 22.0 innings. He has an elite SwStr% (no pitcher produced more swings and misses over their first two starts this season), and while it's best not to overreact to small samples, I'm buying here. I'd comfortably rank Tanaka as a top-15 fantasy starter moving forward.
Scott Pianowski(Preseason SP rank No. 41) β Tanaka looks terrific and no doubt I ranked him too low in the spring. Nonetheless, he still hasn't faced a Top 12 offense yet, and Yankee Stadium can be an awfully small park in the warm-weather months. I'm calling for an ERA around 3.35 and a WHIP in the 1.15-1.18 range the rest of the way, around with a strikeout per inning. That makes him a Top 25 starting pitcher in Yahoo.
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