Yankees offseason import Masahiro Tanaka made his best start as a major leaguer in the first half of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader with the Cubs, yielding just two hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings while striking out 10 batters in New York’s 3-0 win. The Yankees also won the nightcap 2-0 behind a strong performance from Michael Pineda.
Tanaka, who was signed to a seven-year, $155 million contract in late January, is now 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 28/2 K/BB ratio over his first 22 big-league frames. He had a weak 7.8 K/9 his final year in Nippon Professional Baseball, but batters in Japan are much more contact-oriented and his splitter looks like it can be an elite out pitch in MLB.
Tanaka gets the Red Sox next in his first taste of that rivalry. Navigating the Boston lineup will obviously be significantly more difficult than what he faced Wednesday against the Cubs, but the crafty 25-year-old right-hander looks like a potential fantasy ace here in the early going.
Peralta Showing Early Promise
Tanaka wasn’t the only pitcher with a dominant afternoon outing on Wednesday. Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta held the division-rival Cardinals to one earned run over 6 1/3 innings to help Milwaukee avoid a three-game sweep and remain atop the National League Central standings with a surprising 11-4 record.
Peralta used his splitter and slider to induce 11 groundouts from the dangerous St. Louis lineup and he wound up fanning three batters in the Brewers’ 5-1 win. The 24-year-old former top prospect is now 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA through three starts this season and he has an attractive fantasy matchup next week against the Padres.
His past control issues could derail the progress, but Peralta should be owned in all standard fantasy leagues for the time being.
Smyly Finally Getting A Start
Drew Smyly was named the Tigers’ fifth starter out of spring training, but rain postponements and off days have delayed his rotation debut. Saturday against the Angels, the 24-year-old left-hander is finally going to get a chance to shine.
Smyly, a second-round pick of the Tigers in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, registered an outstanding 2.37 ERA, 1.039 WHIP, and 81/17 K/BB ratio across 76 innings last season as a long reliever. He is a four-pitch pitcher on a very good Detroit team and was one of Rotoworld’s favorite fantasy sleepers heading into the 2014 campaign.
Smyly is owned in just 38 percent of Yahoo leagues. Go grab him now if he’s still available.
Machado Moves A Little Bit Closer
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado had one of his best rehab days yet on Wednesday, running the bases at full speed in Sarasota, Florida without experiencing any discomfort in his surgically-repaired left knee. He has also been taking at-bats in simulated games to get his timing right in anticipation of embarking on a minor league rehab assignment.
Machado will go throw a similar running workout on Thursday and could then be cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. Rehab games would follow.
If he is able to avoid further setbacks, the exciting 21-year-old should join the Orioles’ active roster sometime in early May. He batted .283/.314/.432 with 51 doubles, 14 home runs, 71 RBI, and 88 runs scored in 156 games last season for Baltimore.
National League Quick Hits: Reds ace Johnny Cueto racked up 12 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout Wednesday against the Pirates … Bryce Harper was a late scratch Wednesday with quad tightness … Julio Teheran threw a shutout, yielding just three singles, in the Braves’ win over the Phillies on Wednesday … Joe Kelly left his start Wednesday in Milwaukee with a strained left hamstring … Braves closer Craig Kimbrel threw a 15-pitch bullpen Wednesday and said his shoulder feels “great” … Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata was diagnosed with “mild” concussion symptoms after running into the left field wall Wednesday … Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 in Wednesday’s win over the Cardinals and is now batting .377 with a .905 OPS and 13 RBI in 15 games … Aroldis Chapman (head) may be ready to begin throwing live batting practice rounds by the end of next week … Daisuke Matsuzaka was called up to the Mets on Wednesday and will pitch initially in long relief … Jacob Turner (shoulder) could throw off a mound this weekend … Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson is expected to return from his minor forearm, rib cage, and knee injuries on Saturday … Allen Craig slugged his first home run of the season Wednesday in the Cardinals’ loss to the Brewers … Doug Fister (lat) headed to extended spring training Wednesday to begin pitching in simulated games … Padres third baseman Chase Headley is day-to-day with a right biceps strain … Denard Span could return from the concussion disabled list Saturday … Nationals closer Rafael Soriano earned his third save of the season Wednesday night against the Marlins … Emilio Bonifacio finished a combined 0-for-8 in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Yankees.
American League Quick Hits: Yankees closer David Robertson (groin) is on track to return from the disabled list April 22 … Dustin Pedroia returned to the Red Sox lineup Wednesday after getting a cortisone injection Monday for the inflammation in his left wrist … Wil Myers went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Wednesday’s loss to the Orioles and is now batting just .200/.259/.240 on the young season … The Marlins placed Logan Morrison on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and called up infield prospect Nick Franklin … Tommy Hunter earned his fourth save in the Orioles’ win over the Rays on Wednesday … Mike Napoli remains day-to-day after dislocating his left ring finger on Tuesday night … Brad Peacock will join the Astros’ starting rotation on Sunday in Oakland … Jose Reyes (hamstring) is expected to be activated Friday … Mariners closer Fernando Rodney blew his first save of the season Wednesday night against the Rangers … Red Sox closer Koji Uehara (shoulder) should be available Thursday … Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun is likely to miss 4-6 weeks with a severe ankle sprain … Taijuan Walker will be shut down for the next two weeks with a shoulder impingement … Indians catcher Yan Gomes went 2-for-4 with a two-run triple in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers … Coco Crisp remains day-to-day with hamstring tightness … Leonys Martin tripled and hit a walkoff RBI single in the Rangers’ defeat of the Mariners on Wednesday.