In light of his recent struggles, the New York Yankees have delayed Masahiro Tanaka’s start by a day.
The New York Yankees have decided to give Masahiro Tanaka an extra day of rest, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN. The starting pitcher was initially scheduled to pitch Sunday, but will instead take the mound on Monday.
This season has been a bit of a disaster for Tanaka, and the move will allow him an extra day to rest. More importantly, it will also permit him to face the Los Angeles Angels rather than the Baltimore Orioles. Marchand notes that the Orioles have lit up Tanaka this season, scoring 10 runs in just over 10 innings of work.
So far, the right-hander has looked nothing like his past self. Through 12 starts, he owns a 6.55 earned run average, and advanced metrics lack optimism. Part of the problem has stemmed from an increase in walks. Rather than posting his typical 1.65 walks per nine innings, he is allowing a whole extra free pass per game.
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The bigger problem, however, is that the former Japanese star has been generally more hittable this season. Opponents used to struggle to land a base hit. Now they are batting .297 against him. Tanaka’s home run rate has also ballooned, doubling from one per game to two. Part of this may be due to bad luck, but that is far from certain.
On the bright side, a velocity drop does not appear to be the culprit. In fact, Tanaka’s sinker, splitter and slider, which he throws for a combined 72 percent of the time, have gained a tick or so in velocity. His four-seamer, on the other hand, has lost a bit of zip. Still, these changes are effectively negligible – a good sign for a struggling pitcher.
Regardless of what is causing the problem, the New York Yankees certainly long for his past performance. After his arrival to the United States in 2014, the then 25-year-old quickly reached star status. He earned an All-Star game selection that year with his elite work. FanGraphs valued his work at 3.1 wins above replacement despite him only tossing 136 innings.
While Tanaka failed to replicate that magical season for the New York Yankees, he still performed as one of the better pitchers in the league. He posted earned run averages in the low to mid threes in 2015 and 2016 and generally dominated in the American League.
Injuries have, however, created fearful moments in his young career. Midway through his inaugural season, Tanaka landed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation that was later tied to a partially torn UCL. Rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, the righty pursued a non-invasive treatment and returned to the mound in late September. Forearm soreness reignited these concerns the following season, but the injuries proved to be unrelated to his UCL..
All in all, Tanaka is a highly talented pitcher whom the New York Yankees need to return to form. He has the ability to be an ace. Hopefully, the extra day of rest will aid in his resurgence.