The New York Yankees began this season with arguably one of the team’s most talented players yet. Masahiro Tanaka is without-a-doubt a star pitcher for the Yankees this season, but unfortunately he’s been one of their biggest downfalls as well.
His arm: Tanaka’s arm is obviously the reason he’s playing for the New York Yankees right now. With 12 Ws under his belt and his 2.51 ERA, he’s been a key player for the team. Tanaka proved how essential he is to the Yankees organization when he threw his first shutout game in pinstripes against the New York Mets in mid May this year. The downfall to his arm is his most recent injury from July when he suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. Tanaka began rehab in August and has been in and out with different results ever since.
Reliable: Aside from his recent injury, Tanaka has proved himself to be reliable. Even though his right elbow is giving him trouble, he pushes through rehab showing his dedication to getting back in the game and pitching for the team once again. In January Tanaka signed a 7-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees. Along with the possibility of a postseason, his contract might also be giving him a little motivation to start pitching in games again. Sadly, Yankees fans have to face the chance that he might not return to the team this season. Tanaka has had both his ups and downs in rehab, yo-yoing between doing well and being sore since August. His most recent activity has been reported as having no problems after playing catch on September 2nd.
False Hope: He started this season strong, in 18 starts Tanaka went 12-4 with a 1.01 WHIP. His missing talent is exactly why the Yankees are deteriorating without him. The first hope of Tanaka’s return was when he got a platelet-rich plasma injection in mid July to get out of having Tommy John surgery. Most of the time players are seen as invincible and when something is being done to fix the problem, fans are given the hope that it will be solved, but this was not the case. The false hope has mostly been led by New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman.
Towards the beginning of Tanaka’s rehab Cashman and Girardi quoted an estimated time of his return saying, “Three weeks is the mark.” However, the time frame has been blurred after Tanaka said he had general soreness in his elbow on Friday. Girardi’s latest statement said Tanaka will throw a bullpen this week and that “Every manual test that they did came out really well.” Once again there is no set date of Tanaka’s return to the Yankees, which is probably best.
The loss of Tanaka has been a struggle but there’s no doubt the second best team in the AL East made the month of August count. The heat is on in September to see if the Yankees can find a way to play without Tanaka.