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Yankees lineup vs. Blue Jays; Yankees scouting Masahiro Tanaka in Japan

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Ichiro Suzuki goes for 4000 hits as a professional between Japan and the United States against the Blue Jays. The Yankees have been scouting Masahiro Tanaka in Japan.

Jeff Zelevansky

After sweeping the doubleheader yesterday, the Yankees send Adam Warren to the mound against last year's NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays.

So, that's new. Brett Gardner gets the start at DH while Alex Rodriguez sits in favor of Jayson Nix at third base. It will be the first time Gardner has started the game as the designated hitter in his career. Since Dickey is a right-hander, Lyle Overbay gets the start over Mark Reynolds at first base. The two batters with the best career numbers off Dickey are both out of the starting lineup tonight with Wells and A-Rod posting a .974 and 1.000 OPS against the Blue Jays pitcher, respectively, for their careers. Among those actually in the lineup, Gardner (.946 OPS) and Curtis Granderson (.663 OPS) have found success, but Alfonso Soriano, who has cooled down after his remarkable stretch a week ago, joins Overbay as the only Yankees to have hit a home run off the knuckleballer in their careers.

According to Ben Badler at Baseball America, the Yankees are one of two American League teams that have sent their top scouts to Japan to see pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who is widely believed to be intending to pitch in America next season. Tanaka is a 24-year-old with a 1.20 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 158 innings for Rakuten this season. He possesses a fastball that sits in the low-90s with the ability to hit 96 mph on radar guns, but scouts have concerns over the plane he throws on with his pitches being more straight, and thus hittable, than they'd like, according to Badler. Tanaka also has an above-average splitter and and slider.

To obtain the services of Tanaka if he does, in fact, decide to leave Japan would require the same process teams went through when Yu Darvish came over to play for the Rangers. Posting fees have seemingly scared the Yankees off of Japanese pitchers after the failure of Kei Igawa, but MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have been working together this season on ways to revise the current posting system. According to Badler's article, the two sides are working to cap the limit of the posting fee with a goal of giving more money to the player than to the player's Japanese team. This system would allow multiple teams to "win" the posting process and MLB could count more of the money against the luxury tax. There is no certainty when or if this system would ever come into play, or what effect it would have on the Yankees' or any other team's willingness to pursue what is largely an unknown commodity for a lot of money up front.

Should the Yankees go all in on Tanaka after seeing the success of Darvish in MLB, or should they continue to play it safe in a system where so much uncertainty is involved?

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