Masahiro Tanaka’s partially torn UCL sustained mid-2014 has risen questions that have followed him throughout his New York Yankees career.
When was the last time you heard someone question Masahiro Tanaka’s health? Been a while, hasn’t it?
Well, it’s simple. He has given critics no leeway for scrutiny. When a pitcher’s performance reflects his best output, there is no room for criticism.
The truth is that Tanaka has never truly been a let down in New York. His 3.51 ERA in the 2015 campaign along with an exceptional 0.99 WHIP was a stellar arm not pitching to the outstanding nature of his debut season.
Occasional subpar outings were glorified by the so-called “ticking time bomb” of an arm. Short and simple: there is a reason why team doctors get paid a fortune to do what they do. Not one doctor refuted the idea of the young right-hander rehabbing the arm, making the area around it stronger, and avoiding the dreaded and unneeded Tommy John surgery.
His 11-1, 1.99 ERA start to 2014 made fans believe he was a new phenom in baseball. His slight step back in 2015 made them think he was a disappointment but his major step forth in 2016 has turned him back to that ace that everyone hoped he could be. Most importantly, silenced have been the folks constantly blabbering about “questionable health” as if the doctors did not do their job.
3-0 with a 2.89 ERA is where Tanaka stands through 10 starts this season. His repertoire his being executed to perfection, he is being economical and efficient, and countless times he has stood on the mound keeping the Yankees in games that they had no business being in. That is an ace, and that is a guy who has adapted to a new phase for his right arm.
His WHIP stands at a remarkable 0.96 following as flawless a start you can get at Tropicana Field. Tanaka surrendered a mere two hits over seven spotless innings. He was removed after just 82 pitches, 53 strikes, over the seven frames.
Management is clearly wary of the 27-year-old’s condition as they do not want to hurt him in the prime of his promising career. The extra rest and the unwillingness to push him are among the many things the organization will do to preserve him. However, it is clear that Tanaka is past the point where he needs to be fed.
His poise on the hill, his clear determination, and his ultimate results have leaked the sheer conclusion that he is ready to roll. Every fifth day, fans can sit back with confidence that he and his once questioned right arm can put the team in the win column.
This year’s opponents are hitting a weak .211 off Tanaka, who has pitched to a 3.11 ERA in his dissected career. Hey, when you take the forefront on a staff with a million questions you are an easy target. All he has done is go 28-12 (.700) as he pushes forward in his third season in America.
Close critics may dissect him, but one thing yet to be dissected is his right elbow. As the days move on, people begin to forget. As people begin to forget, he continues to impress. As he continues to impress, questions diminish.
There isn’t much to question with Masahiro Tanaka these days. All one can do is admire a guy who has turned into a worthy $155 million expenditure.