There is no question that Masahiro Tanaka has been everything the Yankees hoped he would when they signed him to a huge contract, despite him never throwing a Major League inning. He is the favorite for both the American League Rookie of the Year, as well as the Cy Young, and if the Yankees reach the postseason, should garner some MVP votes as well.
The problem is, he can’t do it all. He can’t carry an entire pitching staff all year. And more importantly, HE CAN’T HIT! What the Yankees’ hitters have done this season is atrocious. That was evident on Sunday when the Yankees managed just four hits against the Orioles. Chris Tillman is not a pitcher that should be shutting the Yankees down. We’ve seen it in plenty of Tanaka’s starts. It’s like this team just hoped to scrape together a couple of runs, and just let Tanaka cruise for the win. Unfortunately for the Yankees, even Tanaka isn’t Superman.
There are too many hitters on this team making a lot of money for the offense to be this anemic. Brett Gardner has been the most consistent hitter in the lineup, hitting leadoff for most of the year. Derek Jeter‘s lack of hitting is the elephant in the room, and that will probably not change. After a torrid start, Jacoby Ellsbury has cooled, but hopefully his current 5-game hitting streak is a sign of things turning around. Playing his home games in Yankee Stadium, I for one, expected more than four home runs on June 23rd.
Carlos Beltran has missed a lot of time, but despite his low average, seems to be getting back on track. If Beltran can get hot, and move up in the lineup, it could allow Ellsbury to move back into a leadoff role, one that he is much more comfortable in. Mark Teixeira came off the DL like gang-busters, but his average is down to .246 and his power has really cooled off. Yangervis Solarte, who was carrying the offense in the beginning of the season, has come back to reality. He doesn’t have a hit since June 8th, and his average sits at .263. Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson can’t be relied on to produce day-in and day-out. So the middle-of-the-order guys need to play up to their hefty contracts, and start producing before this team can’t tread water in a mediocre American League East any longer.
Tanaka will not have his best stuff from time-to-time and that showed Sunday. Its time for the “big bats” to wake up and bail Tanaka out once in a while. Like he has been doing for them all year.