Masahiro Tanaka was brought over from Japan by the Yankees in 2014 with the idea that he would become their next ace.
Tanaka more or less has been a productive major league pitcher. His rookie ERA of 2.77 was his lowest as a pro in the states, but he had a consistently respectable career in pinstripes until a bit of a setback in 2016 with a 4.74 ERA.
Since last season, Tanaka has struggled with command and giving up the long ball, giving up a combined 40 total home runs since the beginning of 2017. His struggles since the beginning of last season are well documented and unfortunate to a team that could potentially have more than once ace should Tanaka revert back to his original play as a Yankee.
The 29-year-old split-finger Japanese pitcher made a strong bounce back effort in the 2017 playoffs for the Yankees as he was virtually un-hittable in most of his starts when it counted. This led Yankees fans and front office alike to think that the 2017 regular season was an anomaly and that their pitcher would be just find going into 2018.
That hasn’t entirely been the case. Tanaka has shown much of those same struggles again in 2018 after giving up 15 earned runs in his past 16 1/3 innings pitched in April. He has also given up 5 long balls already in the 2018 campaign.
The Yankees have Tanaka as their second pitcher in the rotation behind Severino, who has been excellent so far. But Tanaka, clearly isn’t pitching like it.
With the recent call up of prospect Gleyber Torres and the Yankee lineup starting to get hot, the pitching staff is going to really need to pull their load in order to help the Yankees sustain any type of winning success.
Up until Sunday, the Yankees had not yet been two games over .500. They finally reached that mark with Severino on the mound and look to string together a few more games consecutively in the win column.
Masahiro Tanaka is to start the next game for the Yankees against Minnesota on Monday night.
The team really needs to see something solid out of Tanaka as this is an important game for the momentum of the team moving forward. The Yankees are trying to get their first three-game winning streak of the year, however small, and they’ll need a quality outing out of a struggling Tanaka to make that happen.
The stress on Tanaka to perform is even greater knowing that the rotation has had struggles recently and starting pitcher Sonny Gray is also not having a great start to the regular season. This is a time when the starting rotation for the Yankees could really help give the team a pick-me-up and carry some of the weight by stringing together quality outings.
Jordan Montgomery delivered on Saturday as did Severino on Sunday, so now it’s Tanaka’s time to to add to the contributions of the rotation.