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Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: MASAHIRO TANAKA SP NEW YORK YANKEES

Masahiro Tanaka's Elbow:  2, Skeptical Fantasy Baseball Community:  0.  Despite pitching with a slight tear in his UCL, the New York Yankees' ace made is through a second full season in 2016 without having to undergo the Tommy John knife.  Well almost made it all the way through as Tanaka was shut down the last week of the season after developing a minor flexor strain down by his wrist and not in the elbow.  Prior to the shutdown, Tanaka was downright tremendous at times as he won 14 games, put up a 3.07 ERA, and a 1.08 WHIP.  The 199.2 innings were uninterrupted until the end and so it seems like Tanaka has figured out how to pitch at a high level with the tear.  Now the UCL issue has had some impact though on Tanaka's results which can be found in his declining K/9 rate.  Consider that prior to suffering the tear midway through his 2014 rookie season, Tanaka was a strikeout artist as shown by his very high 9.31 K/9.  After the diagnosis has been a different story as that number dropped to 8.12 in 2015, and then a very mediocre 7.44 last season.  Unable to generate the heat he once did with his fastball and admittedly not throwing the four-seamer as much anymore due to the stress it causes on his elbow, Tanaka is a different pitcher than he was when first bursting onto the scene.  Despite all this, Tanaka can be a very good SP 2 in fantasy baseball even with the declining fastball.  His control remains impeccable (1.62 BB/9) and he made tremendous strides with the long ball in lowering his HR/9 to a career-best 0.99.  A .270 BABIP was slightly lucky (3.50 adjusted FIP ERA) but other than that, Tanaka is getting the job done for his owners now on a yearly basis.  Of course any one pitch can send Tanaka right to the operating table which has to be weighed before an investment and that is why we suggest drafting him as your SP 3 instead of as an SP 2 given the risk he brings carries.

2017 PROJECTION:  14-7 3.37 ERA 1.07 WHIP 162 K  
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