Masahiro Tanaka
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Yankees couldn’t have asked for better timing with Tanaka slated to pitch for the first time in a month tonight vs. the Orioles.

The last time Masahiro Tanaka pitched for the New York Yankees we were still in the spring season. Now just a month later, after straining both hamstrings running on a sacrifice fly, Tanaka is set to take the mound Tuesday in Baltimore.

The Yankees, at their current state, are in dire need of starting pitching help. Tanaka now provides the second fiddle to Luis Severino and CC Sabathia — something the Yankees have been struggling to find. It was made official at approximately 10 a.m. this morning and announced via the Yankees’ Twitter account.

Before getting hurt, Tanaka was the beneficiary of tons of run support…for the most part. In all his starts he made, his scored an average of 6.7 runs per game. With the Yankees current state of injuries, Tanaka needs to be more reliable and be on the other side of the coin in that regard. Instead of needing the runs, you’d hope to see he starts dealing in tight affairs where the score is 1-1 through six innings rather than a shootout.

“I think in the earlier part of the season, I felt like I was helped a lot by the offense,” Tanaka said. “Going into the later part of the season, I’d like it to be the other way around. Those close games, you want to be the one that is performing out there and helping the team…”  (Mike Mazzeo, NY Daily News)


That said, it is important to note that in 2018, Tanaka hasn’t pitched deep into games like he has over the course of his whole career. In 2014-2016, he averaged just around 6.5 innings pitched (per Baseball Reference). In 2017, that number dropped to 5.9 innings pitched and now in the first half of 2018, he has pitched just around an average of 5.6 innings per outing.

Tanaka does offer a lot more, however. The Yankees are 10-3 this season in the games he starts. He owns a 7-2 overall record with 73 strikeouts in 72.2 innings pitched over this first half. Safe to say Tanaka offers a great chance of winning whenever he takes the mound this year — and could it be better timing to have him coming off the DL right now?

Tonight in Baltimore, Tanaka has a chance to ease himself back into the swing of things as the Orioles sit with the league’s worst overall record. While Camden Yards can be that of a “boom box” for the home run ball, Tanaka will need to hone in his biggest flaw which is allowing the home run ball.

Aaron Boone seemingly wants to play the cautious card with Tanaka so expect to see him stretched out to 80-90 pitches as a max for his first start in a month.

Tanaka Tuesdays are coming just in the nick of time for the Bronx Bombers.

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