Masahiro Tanaka is really, really, really good


Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka tossed a complete-game shutout against the Mets last night, improving to 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA eight starts into his rookie season.

I watched the game and was incredibly impressed with how Tanaka was able to keep Mets hitters off balance all night. His slider and splitter are huge weapons, but when he needed it Tanaka was also able to blow an above-average fastball past hitters in key spots. He’s the real deal.

It’s early to start breaking down numbers, but so far Tanaka has a 66/7 K/BB ratio in 58 innings. That would be by far the best strikeout-to-walk ratio ever for a 25-year-old pitcher who qualified for the ERA title:

MASAHIRO TANAKA  2014     9.43
Ben Sheets       2004     8.25
Walter Johnson   1913     6.39
Jose Lima        1998     5.28
James Shields    2007     5.11
Johan Santana    2004     4.91
Zack Greinke     2009     4.75
Roger Clemens    1988     4.69
Ervin Santana    2008     4.55
Pedro Martinez   1997     4.55

That’s a helluva list to be sitting on top of. Tanaka’s strikeout rate of 10.2 per nine innings would also rank sixth all-time among 25-year-olds behind only Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Nolan Ryan, Tim Lincecum, and Yu Darvish.

New York paid $155 million over seven years for Tanaka, so it’s not as if they got some sort of incredible bargain, but that price tag factored in at least some uncertainty about whether he’d be an elite pitcher in the majors or merely a good one. Eight starts are still only eight starts, but my guess is that Tanaka’s price tag would be closer to $200 million now.

Royals sign Justin Grimm to a one-year, $1.25 million deal

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The Royals signed free agent reliever Justin Grimm to a one-year, $12.5 million deal, the club announced Sunday. Grimm can earn up to $300,000 in additional incentives, the specifics of which have yet to be disclosed.

The 29-year-old right-hander was released by the Cubs on Thursday. Prior to his release, he was slated to make $2.2 million after losing his arbitration case against the team. Grimm polished off a five-year campaign with the Cubs in 2017 and produced an unimpressive 5.53 ERA, 4.4 BB/9 and 9.6 SO/9 over 55 1/3 innings.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Sam Gaviglio was designated for assignment. He pitched in five games for the Royals this spring, racking up 13 hits, eight runs and seven strikeouts in seven innings.