Saturday, March 12, 2016

Quick Pitch: Tanaka, Shreve shine for Yankees

Spring Training Game 11: Orioles 1, Yankees 7 (Record: 3-6-2)

It’s early, but Masahiro Tanaka is settling some concerns the New York Yankees might have had after the right-hander had surgery to remove a bone spur following last season’s 24-start effort.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison
Tanaka has now tossed five scoreless innings this spring after a three-inning stint Friday. Tanaka allowed one hit, hit a batter and struck out three hitters. Tanaka also generated five ground ball outs and allowed just one fly ball, which is good news for a guy who frankly allows more homers than one would like. Granted, the Orioles sent a minor league squad to Tampa, but as I watched Tanaka throw, I thought the major league regulars would not have had much success either. Tanaka threw 30 of his 40 pitches for strikes and Brian McCann liked what he saw.

"He's in total control of what he's doing, and I just go off of him," McCann said according to Bryan Hoch at "He's throwing the ball great, he's moving around great. He doesn't seem to have any problems. I think he feels really good."

Tanaka wants to pitch 200 innings this season, and if he can manage it, I suspect he’ll compile the type of numbers that warrant his $22 million salary — 18 W, 210 K, 2.85 ERA — #TanakaTime.

The Yankees scored all seven of their runs with two outs which made Yankees manager Joe Girardi quite pleased and surely stressed out Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Buck will tell anyone who cares to listen otherwise, but going winless for the spring thus far has got to be starting to eat away at him.

Chasen Shreve looked to be in midseason form quickly dispensing of the four Orioles batters he faced, striking out two. I wrote at SNY this week that Shreve was going to be an important factor in the Yankees bullpen. He’s been great this spring — much like he was for the first 83.3333 percent (that’s five of six months) of the 2015 season. The Yankees would be ecstatic if Shreve could be the fourth man in the bullpen able to handle critical innings in 2016.

Finally, it looks to me that the combination of Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro up the middle is going to work out just fine. The double plays I’ve seen them turn have been smooth. There might be some growing pains along the way, but so far there seems to be a cohesive tandem growing here.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.