Masahiro Tanaka first in majors to 12 wins; fails to notch quality start for first time in MLB

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Masahiro Tanaka became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 12 wins after the Yankees defeated the Twins by the score of 7-4 tonight at Target Field, but he did so while failing to notch a quality start for the first time in MLB.

Tanaka gave up four earned runs and nine hits (both career-highs) and struck out just three batters (a career-low) over seven innings. And so, his quality start streak will end at 16. Still, it was the longest such streak to begin a career since Steve Rogers also had 16 straight quality starts with the Expos in 1973.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Yankees and brought them back to an even 42-42 for the year. Carlos Beltran launched a three-run homer in the victory while Zelous Wheeler homered and singled in his major league debut.

Tanaka began tonight’s action tied with Felix Hernandez for the American League ERA lead at 2.10, but he’s now sitting at 2.27 for the year. You could make a strong case for either to start the All-Star Game for the American League, but Tanaka’s schedule might render the debate moot. He’s currently lined up to start the final game before the All-Star break next Sunday.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.