It’s quite possible Masahiro Tanaka may have just pitched his final game in pinstripes this afternoon. With his opt-out clause looming, the 28-year old right hander put on a show during the Yankees’ Friday matinee, shutting out the Blue Jays over seven dazzling innings while striking out a career high 15 batters. However, this is coming just one start after surrendering seven runs to the same Jays team, summing up what has been an up-and-down year for Tanaka in the worst season of his MLB career. On the positive side of things, today’s start could very well be exactly what Tanaka needed heading into the Yankees’ first postseason trip since 2015, where he and the Yankees were shut down by the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
The 2017 campaign has been a bumpy road from the beginning for Masahiro, starting off the season giving up seven runs over just 2 2/3 innings in Tampa on opening day during a 7-3 Yankee loss. He seemed to make improvements following that rough start however, throwing a complete-game shutout in Boston merely a few weeks later. It just never seemed to click for him though, seemingly taking one step forward and then two steps back with each of his starts. One outing he looked to be back to his former self, then the next you questioned if the partial tear of his UCL, which he injured back in 2014, is rearing its ugly head again. Nonetheless, with his last start of the regular season being today’s 15 K performance, Tanaka has possibly established himself as a potential ALDS Game One starter for the Yankees, if they advance past the one-game playoff this Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. After all, his resume is still very impressive here in America, with a 52-28 win-loss record, and he’s always been quite consistent up until the 2017 season.
Although, with the Yankees elite bullpen, Tanaka and the rest of the staff will all be on a short leash if they get into any early trouble, so don’t be surprised if many of their starters don’t see past the fourth or fifth inning this October. A bullpen that consists of Adam Warren, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman will most certainly be the Yankees’ most lethal weapon as part of one of the most complete teams they’ve had in recent years. With a strong one-two-three in Luis Severino, Tanaka, and Sonny Gray, plus veteran left hander CC Sabathia and possibly the most potent lineup in the league, the sky is the limit for the Bombers come this October, as long as they can get past the pesky Wild Card game.
Did you enjoy this article? Want to join up with Blue HQ Media and write about your favorite team? Message us on Facebook or Twitter, and be sure to stay tuned to Blue HQ for more updates and important stories!