Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is the seventh Japanese player to be part of the New York Yankees.
Before signing him, the Yankees were in the ninth place in the odds lists for winning the 2014 World Series. The favorites to win this season are Los Angeles Dodgers. You can check your favorite team’s place in SportsBettingDime.com.
Tanaka signed a seven-year $ 155 million contract, becoming the fifth Asian pitcher to join New York. The Yankees will have two Japanese in the rotation for next season, with Tanaka and veteran Hiroki Kuroda. The 25-year-old ended last season with a 24-0 record playing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with a 1.27 ERA. In 175 games, the Japanese threw 53 complete games with 18 shutouts and 1,238 strikeouts.
The team led by Joe Girardi has had a good experience with Japanese players (Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui), but none has excelled on the mound. The first Japanese pitcher to reach the Yankees was Hideki Irabu in 1997, who won two World Series with the team but did not take part in any game. Irabu finished with 27 wins and 24 losses in two years in New York, with a 3.31 ERA. He allowed 396 hits and 165 runs while striking out 317 rivals.
Kei Igawa was signed in 2007 and stayed only two seasons with the team. The former Hanshin Tigers player started 13 games and finished with a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA. He allowed 89 hits, 54 runs and 15 home runs. Due to his low-level of play, the team sent him to AAA team and tried to trade him to another squad in Japan.
Ryota Igarashi, who arrived from the Toronto Blue Jays, was the third Japanese pitcher to try his luck with the Yankees. He joined the team in 2012, but had only two appearances, pitching three innings with four hits and four runs.
After four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda signed a one-year contract with New York in January 2012 and achieved a 16-11 mark. Thanks to his good numbers he stayed for another season, but only got 11 wins and closed with seven losses in his last 10 appearances.
Next season, Tanaka will be the ninth Japanese active player in the MLB, but the Yankees expect him to become the biggest star of the Rising Sun country to return to the playoffs and aspire to another World Series title.