Following Wednesday's dominant outing against the crosstown rival New York Mets, Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees is the first rookie in franchise history to win his first six career decisions since Whitey Ford started 9-0 in 1950, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).
Tanaka was also the first Yankee rookie since Ford to start 5-0 and is now just four wins away from beating the Hall of Famer's record.
Ford concluded his 1950 campaign with a 9-1 record, as his starts were limited due to a July 1 debut. He was so successful that he still finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, despite tossing just 112 innings. Following his debut season, Ford missed the next two years while serving in the military but returned to pitch 15 more seasons, including a Cy Young-winning campaign in 1961.
Tanaka's strong start has been marked mostly by his impressive strikeout totals, as the 25-year-old has erased 66 batters via the punch-out over his first eight starts, including three double-digit performances. He owns a 10.2 K/9 following Wednesdays complete-game shutout, outperforming the mark of 8.9 he accumulated during four seasons in Japan.
Tanaka racked up 47 strikeouts in his first five starts alone, a feat that has only been surpassed by Stephen Strasburg (48 in 2010) and Herb Score (50 in 1955), according to ESPN Stats & Info.
With Yankees ace CC Sabathia currently on the disabled list with a knee injury, the team will heavily rely on Tanaka to carry a battered pitching staff. The $155 million man has certainly put up ace-like numbers so far in 2014, owning a 2.17 ERA and .091 WHIP to go along with his undefeated record.
His success is largely due to a nasty split-fingered fastball that has kept hitters guessing with a 32.4 percent whiff rate, per Brooks Baseball.
With Tanaka possessing a vast repertoire of pitches that he's comfortable using in any count, there's no reason to think that the Japanese phenom will be slowing down anytime soon.
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