This season has been a rough one for the Yankees’ bullpen. Losing CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the first half was difficult, but manageable. Watching David Phelps get taken out of the game on Sunday against the Red Sox due to inflammation of his right elbow was also hard to watch, but I think it’s safe to say that Yankees fans everywhere lost a little bit of hope for the postseason when we heard that starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka suffered a ligament tear and was getting a platelet-rich plasma injection in mid July to dodge Tommy John surgery.
Starting the second half of this season with possibly four star pitchers out of the rotation made it feel like there was a black cloud over Yankee Stadium. Now, it’s like the cloud has been lifted and finally the time has come to reverse the curse.
With high hopes, Tanaka took his first step toward getting back into the game on Monday. He got the go ahead to work out his right elbow and was able to throw the ball again in the Yankee Stadium outfield. It became a make it or break it moment since it was the first time he had thrown since pitching against the Indians on July 8. Afterwards, Tanaka said he was feeling better which is music to everybody (except the opposing team’s) ears.
Tanaka has been a key player for the Yankees since his shutout against the New York Mets on May 14th earlier this year. His 2.51 ERA has been a great addition to the team and is exactly what the Yankees need after losing Sabathia and Nova for the season.
The 25-year-old signed a 7-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees back in January, and while it may have caused some drama between baseball writer T.R. Sullivan and Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, I think he’s worth every single penny. Assuming his rehab goes well, the next seven seasons of Yankees baseball will benefit greatly from Tanaka’s arm. Who knows? He could be the next Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, or even the “Chairman of the Board” himself, Whitey Ford.
New York Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman said that if everything went well on Monday, Tanaka will be able to continue his rehab. “Three weeks is the mark,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said regarding Tanaka’s return. Both Cashman and Girardi said we could expect to see Tanaka make his comeback in Septemeber at the earliest, that is as long as everything goes well with his rehab. However, if things take a turn for the worst (not that they can get much worse) we might not see him until the 2015 season. I for one would love to see Tanaka back in the ball game at the end of August for their series against Toronto. The Yankees could use a helping hand, quite literally, against the second best team in the AL East.