PROPS to Masahiro Tanaka. Dr. D missed the game. Not inadvertently. He checked in via radio for sixty seconds, about the 5th inning, on the off chance that the ballgame would be worth a fast-forwarding. You might have noticed that it wasn't. Well, unless you're into virtuosity for its own sake. Personally, I'm more into the 99c menu of the fastest possible gratification for the least possible effort.
Like Gordon sez, best strategy here would be to avoid Tanaka starts at all costs. You and me as fans; the M's as Wild Card enemies.
PROPS to youse guys and your Felix comps. We did check the 12-15 pitches on video and WOW. Instantly you were gifted --- > the visceral reaction to what it is like to face The King. Good call mates.
Tanaka used the 88-90 "dry spitter," and the located 91-95 fastball, almost exclusively (per Brooks). He worked in a few sliders and when he did, the M's tipped their caps. If that ain't a Felix start, I don't know what is -- had you superimposed Felix' body onto the flight of the pitches I would have thought it was an unusually good Felix start.
SLOPS to Dr. D, who not 24 hours earlier had presumed that Tanaka-san had to be a slight beneficiary of the "novelty" factor. What he is a beneficiary of, is a full-on Felix Hernandez splitter and [a 2010-11 Jered Weaver fastball, add 4 feet].
SLOPS to this late-April fangraphs article, which --- > prophesied Tanaka for a post-April falloff --- > which followed a preseason prophecy of problems for Cy-onara.
That is what you get for insisting that everything is captured by an algebraic formula, dude. And the comments section makes for a hilarious read after the fact. (Note the byline of the article and the most frequent poster. What is this, Detectovision?!)
Tanaka's strikeouts were lower in Japan because his approach was different there. A "Davenport Translation" of NPB stats, or AAA stats for that matter, won't work for every single player. Saberdogs hate, hate, hate the exceptions to the rules; at SSI we wallow in them.
The takeaway for you ... you being the nuanced SSI reader, that is ... ballplayers are human beings, they have massive human brains, and those brains defy "solution."
PROPS to this "One Start Comp" from Jeff Sullivan (Anibal Sanchez). Jeffy exploited the locally-grown concept of templates and pattern recognition, and they served him well. Adapt or die, amigos. We saw it in a Godzilla movie.
Here is the SSI tag for Tanaka-san. At SSI, we recommended to grab Tanaka as the #12 starting pitcher in the AL going into 2014, and bank the profit. We (and most of you) thought was plenty 'nuff a "guarded prognosis," as Grumpy would put it. Shandler at BaseballHQ had Tanaka about the same, on HQ's draft board.
PROPS to MLB scouts, who have triangulated Japanese players pretty well now. Tanaka had everything Iwakuma and Kuroda did, is in the same template, and is better. MLB(tm) teams knew this ahead of time; they use templates as baselines and then they ask, "better or worse?" An AL scout (not Mike Hargrove...) compared the 1999-2000 Ichiro to Kenny Lofton and said, "Oh, he's better than Lofton is."
This was SSI's basic logical premise before the season: Tanaka >> Iwakuma.
SLOPS to worries about NPB workloads. Our fave NPB poster was justly worried about Tanaka's trends in Japan, but our basic response was, once your numbers are silly, "Silly vs Sillier" isn't a trend that is very useful. The game warps at, say, 10K and 1BB. The M's bats plenty warped on Wednesday.
Have you noticed that NPB pitchers are very, very smart about babying their overused shoulders?
It ain't a guarantee; the next guy over could be DiceK -- as could Taijuan or Felix. But apples to apples, the same NPB pitcher will give you more mileage than an MLB pitcher, for the same level of worry.
PROPS to sacrificing our #4 ... um, #6 ... starting pitcher on Tanaka Night. Officer thinking, sir.
SLOPS to the Yankee$ being the team directly behind us in the Wild Card. We're clinging to our playoff berth like a cat to a screen door.
PROPS to Mike Zunino's double off Tanaka-san. He got a 91 MPH jam pitch, FLLLIIICKKKED the bat like Jose Lopez, and whistled it down the line. Here's the video. Impressive!
Mikey gets that "sudden" little Jim Thome "hitter's box" to every spot in the strike zone. He hangs back on curves, he takes high-away pitches to RF, he gets around on jam pitches ... he's age 23 and McClendon, watching the things you and I do :- ) sees Zunino as his best RBI bet after Cano and Seager.
Too soon to give him a Longoria deal?