New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for May.
Tanaka compiled a 5-1 record with a 1.88 ERA, one shutout, six walks and 42 strikeouts in 43.0 innings pitched over six appearances to claim his first career monthly award and the first for the Yankees since Ivan Nova was voted the A.L. Pitcher of the Month for August 2013. Masahiro is the first Yankees rookie to win a Pitcher of the Month Award since its inception in 1979. The last rookie overall to get voted as the league's top monthly pitcher was Tampa Bay's Chris Archer in July 2013. Among qualifying starters in the A.L. with a minimum of 27.0 innings, Tanaka finished tied for first in wins, was second in ERA, third in strikeouts and was tied for third in innings pitched. In addition, opponents batted just .229 off the right-hander during the month.
The 25-year-old Tanaka began his award-winning month in victorious fashion on May 3rd against Tampa Bay, holding the Rays to three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in a 9-3 triumph at Yankee Stadium. In his next turn on the bump on May 9th, Tanaka surrendered a pair of runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts over 6.1 innings as the Yankees topped the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-3, at Miller Park. Returning to New York City for a Subway Series matchup with the Mets on May 14th in Queens, the Japanese native shut down the opposing offense on four hits with eight strikeouts for the first complete-game shutout of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tanaka joined Andy Pettitte as the only Yankees starters to throw shutouts against the Mets. On May 20th, Tanaka's run of 42 regular season starts without a loss (34-0) between appearances in Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball was interrupted as the Chicago Cubs handed Masahiro his first defeat since August 19, 2012, when the Seibu Lions topped Tanaka's Rakuten Golden Eagles at the Seibu Dome. Despite the loss, Tanaka still held the Cubs to just three earned runs with seven strikeouts over 6.0 innings. Masahiro returned to his winning ways on May 25th against the visiting Chicago White Sox, limiting the South Siders to one run on five hits with six strikeouts over 6.2 innings as the Bronx Bombers coasted to a 7-1 home win. In his final start of the month last Saturday, Tanaka tossed 8.0 strong innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits with nine strikeouts to lead the Yanks to a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx. Tanaka has recorded at least 6.0 innings pitched and allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last 11 starts, the longest active streak in the Majors. Additionally, he joins Montreal's Steve Rogers as the only pitchers since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913 to produce such a start in each of their first 11 Major League games. Rogers did so in each of his first 16 career starts during the 1973 season.
Others receiving votes included Cleveland's Corey Kluber (4-0, 2.09 ERA, 8 BB, 60 SO); Toronto's Mark Buehrle (5-0, 2.48 ERA, 24 SO); Minnesota's Phil Hughes (3-0, 1.62 ERA, 0 BB, 24 SO); and Houston's Dallas Keuchel (4-2, 2.14 ERA, 7 BB, 34 SO).
The American League Pitcher of the Month, Masahiro Tanaka, will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his accomplishment. #