The Yankees are sitting in first place, four games up on the Red Sox. This has been in large part due to everyone from 1-25 playing well and clicking at the right time. At second thought it might be more accurate to say 1-24.
Masahiro Tanaka has been no where near the Ace the Yankees expected him to be coming into the season. The Yankees started this season off hoping Tanaka would not opt out of his deal following the 2017 campaign however these feelings may have swayed a bit now that he has been getting shelled lately.
Tanaka had an incredible spring training which had the Yankees convinced they could rely on him in 2017. He pitched to the tune of a 0.38 ERA, allowing only 1 earned run in 6 games. He also struck out 28 batters in 23.2 innings.
Despite not pitching very well the entire season including April, Tanaka left April with a 3-1 record and a 4.20 ERA which would be his best stats posted all year. Tanaka plummeted in May going 2-4 with a 8.42 ERA in six games. In those six games, Tanaka only managed to complete seven innings twice. His batting average against is sitting at .348 and hasn’t shown much sign of getting better thanks to the 11 home runs he also gave up.
Tanaka’s most recent start came against the Red Sox on June 6 in which he went 5 innings allowing 5 hits and 5 runs while only striking out 2 batters. Three of the five hits he allowed were home runs in a game the Yankees lost.
After that game, the critics started to get louder. Demanding the Yankees do something about how bad Tanaka has been. Although many fans especially on twitter called for Tanaka to be DFA’d or traded these ideas have no merit. Players of Tanaka’s caliber do not get DFA’d and the Yankees are in first place and hopeful they can fix Tanaka and get him on track.
After dodging the idea that Tanaka could be injured or tired for months, manager Joe Girardi finally announced that the Yankees were pushing Tanaka back to Monday while starting Chad Green on Sunday against the Orioles. This is a step in the right direction. That is until Girardi spoke to the media again Sunday during the pregame report.
When asked what his backup plan would be if Tanaka struggled again Girardi answered, “Start Saturday.”
This idea is flawed and frankly blindly optimistic. If Tanaka Struggles again that will be 13 starts in which he has not figured it out as a whole.
The only strategy that makes sense for the Yankees is to place Tanaka on the 10-day disabled list. with arm fatigue and run tests. If the tests come back negative Tanaka at least skips two starts and gets more rest and should come back refreshed and ready to go. In the meantime Chad Green could step in or the Yankees also have Chance Adams in the wings at Triple-A knocking on the door.
The Yankees have been very good this year at scoring runs and winning ball games however they cannot have this dead spot in their rotation every five days that virtually removes any chance of winning. The Yankees have to address this.