The Yankees have announced that Masahiro Tanaka will make his first regular season start for the team during their fourth game of the season.
Upon hearing that news I was more than a little curious as to why the Yanks would choose to have a player they made such a tremendous investment in when they gave him a $155 million contract to lure him to the Majors from the Japanese league.
According to Sweeny Murti, who was a guest on WFAN this morning during the midday show with Evan Roberts and Joe Beningo, the Yankees have chosen to have Tanaka take the fourth spot on the rotation as a strategic move to help the Japanese righty get acclimated to the rigors of pitching in the United States.
The biggest adjustment that everyone has talked about that he has to make is going from pitching every seven days to pitching every five… The first three guys in the rotation will pitch three turns through on regular rest [4 days], the fourth guy only has to pitch the first two turns through on regular rest … The Yankees have basically built in an extra day of rest in after two turns through the rotation for Tanaka by putting him in the fourth slot, that’s really the biggest reason to put him where they did.
To me this is a very intelligent move by the Yankees organization. Fans are very excited to see Tanaka make his first real appearance for the Bronx Bombers, but anything the Yankees can do to ease the transition from pitching overseas to pitching in the bigs will benefit the player, and, ultimately, the team in the long run.
The Yankees have invested too much in the 25 year old to not give him every opportunity to be successful, and while pitching him fourth behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova may seem strange at first glance, the reasoning for it makes it the best baseball decision the team could make given the circumstances.