Masahiro Tanaka is on a roll atop the New York Yankees rotation but it’s all  thanks to one interesting circumstance. 

By Christian Kouroupakis

Pine tar, spit, glue, hair gel and much much more are unique ingredients pitchers around baseball use to gain an edge on the opposition. For New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, all he needs is to sleep in an extra day and he’s ready to dominate atop the pitchers’ mound.

It’s just not a coincidence anymore. After Tanaka cruised passed the Chicago White Sox over 7.2 shutout innings in five days – one extra day – rest manager Joe Girardi must use common sense and make accommodations for the most dynamic starter on his rotation.

Why? Because the difference between his numbers on four days – regular – rest and five days are immeasurable.

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On regular rest here in 2016, Tanaka owns a 1-2 record with a 5.28 earned run average while the opposition is slashing .276/.310/.448 with an OPS of .758 and seven home runs in seven starts.

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Give him an extra day, and the 27-year old Japanese native turns into an absolute monster. Following his shutout performance last night, his ERA has dropped to 1.05, opposing hitters own a .193/.212/.241 slash line with a lowly OPS of .453 and have only hit one home run in his seven starts.

In addition to those stellar numbers, he owns a 7.60 strikeout to walk ratio with extra rest compared to a 4.13 ratio on normal rest.

For his brief major league career, the differentiation between the two splits still exists.

Since coming to the States from Japan, Tanaka owns a 7-6 record with a 3.69 ERA compared to 17-7 with a 2.74 ERA on four days rest. Additionally, his strikeout per nine innings progresses from 7.7 to 8.1 when he’s given an extra day.

So we ask the question: why is this Yankees’ hurler so remarkable when he takes five days in between starts? The answer is quite simple. He’s used to it.

In Japan, Tanaka was in a league in which teams would utilize a six-man rotation. It’s no news flash that the Yankees’ $155-million dollar investment dominated there with a 24-0 record including a 1.27 ERA with 183 strikeouts compared to 32 walks the year prior to coming to New York.

All these numbers at Girardi’s disposal, yet he has decided against making an adaptation in order to get the most from his number one starter.

Does the Yankees’ manager realize that it’s his job description to get the most out of his players? To throw them into the ideal position to help them succeed the most?

Girardi says that he doesn’t have an extra guy to go to yet he has Nathan Eovaldi in the bullpen with Chad Green in the rotation so he has an extra starter to throw into the mix.

Also, he has guys like Luis Cessa and Luis Severino that can take a ride on the “Scranton Shuttle” in order to make a spot start if need be. No options? Please. Coming from a team that used the shuttle at a rate of once every three games last season, that’s far from the truth.

Secondly, almost every starter owns superior numbers with an extra days rest as compared to four days of rest.

Eovaldi, despite his struggles and recent demotion, sees an entire run drop in his ERA (5.63 to 4.63) with three fewer home runs surrendered in only three fewer innings this season.

Michael Pineda has also given up three fewer home runs, Ivan Nova’s strikeouts-per-nine rises from 6.9 to 7.8 and CC Sabathia, despite seeing a spike in ERA, has seen a decline in base on balls.

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The numbers here simply don’t lie. A rotation that currently ranks 23 in wins and 18 in ERA by standing pat hasn’t proved it’s worth. It’s time to shake things up. Sure, it’s a gamble, but, all things considered, this is a risk that could prove to benefit the well-being of a struggling rotation in urgent demand of a fix.

Although Girardi stands his ground and says his rotation will never increase to six men, his ace – who contains a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament – needs his rest. If the Yankees want to climb back to even sniff the scent of postseason baseball, they’ll require what he brings to the table every six days.

He’s better, his team is better and it’s flat out collective knowledge at this point. Whether Girardi will adjust to a situation in which his team succeeds more has yet to be seen and regrettably won’t happen – for now.

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