Masahiro Tanaka earns a save in the Japan Series clincher

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Get used to hearing the name Masahiro Tanaka this offseason. He’s likely to get huge money to come to the U.S. If he does, his last act in Japan was something special.

As we noted over the weekend, Tanaka’s record unbeaten streak finally came to an end on Saturday, as the Rakuten Golden Eagles lost 4-2 to the Yomiuri Giants in Game 6 of the Japan Series. Tanaka threw a crazy 160 pitches in that game. So he was dead for Game 7, right?

Wrong:  yesterday he took the mound in relief and threw 15 more pitches to get the save in Game 7, giving the Golden Eagles their first ever Japan Series title.

This guy finished the regular season at 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. His 160 pitches notwithstanding, he’s gonna be the biggest draw of them all next year, assuming he makes the jump.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.