Masahiro Tanaka has been everything to the New York Yankees’ rotation this season.
Signing on to a lucrative deal this past winter, Tanaka – who was projected to be a fourth or fifth starter at the beginning of the ball year – ultimately became New York’s go-to ace. Part of the reasoning goes to his electric stuff, and part goes to the Yanks’ decapitated rotation.
After revealing a slight tear in his elbow following an atrocious outing against the Cleveland Indians on Jul. 8, in which he gave up the most earned runs he’s allowed this season (five), there was some assumption that Tanaka – like nearly every other major league pitcher with elbow issues this year – would face the dreaded fate of Tommy John surgery.
However, after much discussion, the Japanese sinker-baller avoided going under the knife, and is now in the process of rehabilitating his way back to the playing field. And while Tanaka’s re-insertion certainly would bode well for the Yanks’ playoff hopes, are they jeopardizing his future?
I’m no doctor, but last time I checked, tears in the elbow don’t go away, and need to be addressed at some point. And, understandably, New York arguably wants Derek Jeter to retire a champion, so Tanaka’s return is a must for that to happen. Yet, what New York fails to recognize is that while they’re not going to surrender the season – which, by all means, they shouldn’t – it’s in their best interest to rely on what they have for the remaining games.
Tanaka’s presence isn’t going to alter the fact the Yankees simply can’t hit/drive in runs/get on base.
After witnessing New York lose 7-4 to the lowly Houston Astros on Tuesday, it’s apparent the Yankees can’t even trounce teams that they should be blowing out. They did this a few weeks back with the Texas Rangers as well. If you’re enduring a nail-biter every game, and are constantly trying to pull out victories by just one or two runs, over time, it’s going to wear on you.
This issue has been building all year long, and it’s a total shock, because considering their rotation has gotten obliterated by injuries, one wouldn’t expect their hitting to go south, given the big names in their lineup. When it comes to the Yanks’ 2014 campaign, there’s no give-and-take between their hitting and pitching; it’s either the pitcher performs exceptionally well, or they lose – period.
When it seems as though the Yankees turn the corner, and are ready to commence a winning streak, they take an immediate step back. Besides, even if New York were to garner a postseason berth, is it reasonable to believe they’ll make it far? Can they really contend with the Angels? A’s? Orioles? Tigers? No.
Risking Tanaka, who is a huge investment, would be utterly foolish of the Yanks to do. Again, the pitching is not the problem, as all of their current five starters have contributed, and continue to help immensely.
The sooner New York realizes it’s best to shelve Tanaka and prepare him for next season, the better.
Face it, as I mentioned, if the Yanks can’t win against putrid clubs, what’s their playoff odds versus a team like the Angels should they make it?
Time to think big picture.