Lost in the Yankees rocking Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox’s bullpen for 14 runs Sunday night is that Masahiro Tanaka had another unimpressive start as he continues to keep pitching and avoid Tommy John elbow surgery.
Tanaka completed five innings, which is three more outs than he got versus the Blue Jays on Opening Day, but he allowed four runs, struck out four batters compared to three walks, and got just five swinging strikes on 97 pitches. And his velocity was again underwhelming, with an average of 91 miles per hour on his fastball.
Through two starts last season Tanaka had 18 strikeouts and 34 swinging strikes versus 1 walk.
Through two starts this season Tanaka has 10 strikeouts and 17 swinging strikes versus 5 walks.
The good news is that he’s healthy and has shown he can certainly still get big-league hitters out with his diminished raw stuff, but so he looks nothing like the guy who went 13-5 with 2.77 ERA and 141/25 K/BB ratio in 136 innings as a rookie.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”
The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.
Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.