The Yankees have been just outside the playoffs for most of the season. Unfortunately, they are in the midst of a losing streak that is sinking their chances of making it to late October. They have lost 3 in a row, and are now 7 games back in the division and 2.5 games back for the 2nd wild card. As the calendar approaches September, the Yankees need to ask themselves, is it worth risking Masahiro Tanaka’s long term health to get a few starts for a squad that has no reason being in the playoffs?
The Yankees are relatively close to the Wild Card. 2.5 games can be made up in a week. However, the Yankees are still 4th in the 2nd Wild Card chase. Believe it or not, the number of teams ahead of you also counts. Things can still fall into position for the squad and may make a run in September, while another couple teams fall off. However, more than likely this will not happen. Even if it does, it’s to make a play-in game to make the real playoffs. The Wild Card game is not a reason to risk the elbow of Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka has a partially torn UCL. He is trying to rehab without surgery. Rushing him back this season when the odds of even getting into the playoffs are so low is outright ridiculous. This is the first year of a 7-year contract. While I fully believe in getting what you can out of an arm then moving on to the next pitcher, Tanaka is not the guy to do that with. Over $150 million dollars is going to him through the 2020 season. Getting 3 or 4 starts in 2014 is simply a selfish mode of attack. Both the Yankees and fans need to understand that not every year is a World Series year, especially this one.
The UCL is a seriously fragile ligament. Seeing the number of pitchers go down this season and need Tommy John surgery attests just that. Unfortunately, it is possible that even with all this rest Tanaka may have to still go under the knife. Considering how long the recovery time is, he needs to be shut down until the spring. Otherwise, the Yankees will be throwing away two seasons.