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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Sunday Night’s national TV game on ESPN’s MLB package features the New York Yankees and potential phenom Masahiro Tanaka hosting the potent offensive lineup of the Los Angeles Angels. There was a lot of skepticism about how well Tanaka would pitch after coming over from Japan. So far, he’s exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic pundits!

 

TANAKA TAKES THE BRONX

29.1 innings pitched in 4 games, for a sterling 7.22 per game average

35 strikeouts, which is much better than one per inning

2 walks…YES…JUST TWO WALKS!

7 earned runs allowed, resulting in a shiny 2.15 ERA

The Yankees were hoping for another Yu Darvish. Many thought that was an unrealistic hope. But, that ridiculous 35-2 strikeout to walk ratio during his “adjustment” period to new hitters is unbelievable. He has allowed four home runs, which is an average of one per game. So, it’s not like he’s throwing no-hitters every time out. He is consistently dominating…which gives the Yankees a real shot to win the tough AL East this season.

Thus far, Tanaka has faced the offenses of Toronto, Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox, and Boston. That’s a competitive mix that provides a good test of his ability. It’s not like he was facing MLB’s weaklings, or toiling exclusively in pitcher’s parks. His toughest test of the season will come Sunday Night against the potent attack of the Los Angeles Angels. That sets up our trek through the numbers…

 

OFFENSE

LA Angels: 5.67 runs per game, .317 on-base, .453 slugging

NY Yankees: 4.34 runs per game, .331 on-base, .414 slugging

The Angels are #1 in the AL in slugging percentage, which means Tanaka’s home run tendencies may be exploited. Albert Pujols is making headlines again, which has to scare everyone in the AL West. Mike Trout is still a force to be reckoned with. This is an OFFENSE! If Tanaka hurls another gem, you might as well consider him another Yu Darvish for handicapping purposes.

The Yankees are better than the Halo’s at getting on base, but haven’t kept up with them in slugging. They’re still a team with some pop though because .414 is above league average in the AL. Many expected an offensive collapse for the Yanks in 2014. They should have scored more runs than they have given their production…but the elements are there for a successful offense going forward.

Let’s see who Tanaka’s opponent will be on the mound Sunday Night…

 

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Garrett Richards: 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.64 K-Rate

Masahiro Tanaka: 2.15 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 12.06 K-Rate

Surprisingly strong numbers for Richards, whose career numbers were much worse than that entering the season. You have to assume he’s going to regress back to the guy who’s ERA is going to be in the 4’s, and who’s WHIP is going to be up around 1.3 or 1.4. He was fortunate to draw Houston and Seattle in a couple of early starts. But, there has been legitimate improvement thus far, so we don’t want to poke too many holes in his start. The Angels become relevant very quickly if he can keep that going.

We already talked about Tanaka. He’s still a Cy Young candidate if he drops off a bit from that start. Edge to Tanaka. Good news, though, potentially in those numbers for Richards and the Angels in their AL West race against Texas and Oakland.

Sunday features a HUGE slate of MLB and NBA action. The Angels/Yankees game may or may not be part of the final mix as we go to press. You can purchase the final word Sunday morning right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you take care of business early with all the daytime action. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to check on special combination packages that include next week’s KENTUCKY DERBY.

Our big game previews in the NBA Playoffs resume on Monday. We’re likely to be looking at Game Four of San Antonio/Dallas first, followed Tuesday by Game Five of Memphis/Oklahoma City. We’ll update the schedule through the week as all the drama play itself out.

For now…the focus is on baseball…and we want you TA-NAK-A home run with Sunday’s Las Vegas bets. Swing for the fences with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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