New York Yankees star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka took the mound on Thursday for his debut spring training start against the Atlanta Braves and was quite effective in limited action.

Tanaka retired the side in two perfect innings, striking out two batters and flashing dominant form in an encouraging outing at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports 1 noticed that Tanaka was generating exceptional velocity on his fastball in the early going:

The split-finger pitch that has garnered considerable hype helped Tanaka record one of his punchouts, which Morosi also made note of:

Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Zachary D. Rymer observed how Tanaka seldom missed a pitch during his two frames on the bump:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi weighed in after Tanaka’s evening was finished, via’s Bryan Hoch:

I’ve seen him throw his sides, I haven’t seen him protect anything. I saw him throw last year and didn’t really think that he protected anything. My antenna is up every time a pitcher goes out there; you’re paying close attention to make sure you don’t see something they do different. There’s a lot of times that I’ll see someone say, “Uh-oh.” But I have a good feeling about it.

Girardi has reason to feel good based on the stuff Tanaka strutted, not least of which was this highlight from the Yankees’ official Twitter account:

A lingering talking point is Tanaka’s health, because the 26-year-old suffered a partially torn right UCL in July 2014. It’s an injury that can lead to Tommy John surgery, a procedure that would keep Tanaka off the field for at least a year if not more.

The following update from ESPN’s Stephania Bell paints an even better picture of where Tanaka is:

Thursday’s appearance revealed Tanaka not holding anything back—and assessment Girardi corroborated—and showing off the ability that helped him to a stellar 13-5 record with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts last year.

The Japanese sensation recorded a 3.3 WAR in his first taste of Major League Baseball, per New York will need that type of performance from Tanaka in 2015 if it means to reverse the trend of missing the playoffs, as has been the case the past two seasons.

If CC Sabathia can return to form and Tanaka remains healthy, the two could form quite a tandem to spark a Yankees rotation that ranked 21st in quality starts in 2014.

Tanaka has the tools to shine in his second season in the pinstripes, so Bronx Bomber fans have to be pleased with how his first spring training game unfolded and how it pertains to the future.

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