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Masahiro Tanaka could debut in Houston


Today’s announcement that Masahiro Tanaka has signed with the New York Yankees could have a big impact on the Astros. The Yankees open the regular season with a 3-game series against the Astros in Houston. That means Astros fans (and Texans in general) are likely to get the first up close and personal experience with Tanaka-mania.

The Japanese import should slot into the Yankees starting rotation in either the #2 or #3 spot, depending upon Joe Girardi‘s preference. Barring a decision by Girardi to plug Tanaka into the back of the rotation or an unforeseen injury, the Astros will be the first MLB team to square off against the former Rakuten Golden Eagle. The home team will reap the rewards at the gate as ticket prices are sure to soar and the series should be a sellout. But — on the field — we could be in trouble.

Tanaka was 24-0 last year with a 1.29 ERA. The numbers from his last three seasons in Japan are comparable to those posted by Yu Darvish in the same league. We all remember what happened when the Astros faced Darvish in the opening series last season. And, like Darvish, this guy has a split-finger pitch that has been described as “practically unhitable”.

That’s the bad news. The good news is — maybe one of the major networks will pick up the game and some of us might actually be able to see it on TV.

As for the Tanaka signing, the Yankees outbid several other teams with their offer of $155 million for seven years. The Astros reportedly offered more than $100 million for Tanaka’s services.