It has been only three starts, and it has been only three starts against the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs at that. Almost anything can happen over a few starts; just look at Aaron Harang's success. But so far Masahiro Tanaka has been everything the New York Yankees could have hoped for and more.
Remember the controversy that swirled in February when Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tanaka "had the potential to be a No. 3 starter?" That wasn't exactly what Yankee fans wanted to hear after seeing their team drop $155 million in salary, plus a $20 million acquisition fee on top of that. But if this keeps up, that price might almost look like a bargain.
He can't keep it up, not exactly like this anyway, because Tanaka will inevitably run into trouble just like every other pitcher has. Still, in the history of Major League Baseball, here's the list of pitchers who have started their career by striking out eight or more and walking one or fewer in each of their first three games:
1. Masahiro Tanaka, 2014
That's it. No one has done what Tanaka has done, and while there's at least a little bit of bias in that -- Tanaka isn't your traditional rookie, and major league hitters are striking out more often in 2014 than ever before -- it's still more than a little impressive.