Yankees Editorial: Don’t Panic About Masahiro Tanaka’s Elbow..Yet


Everyone likes to overreact about what they see on Opening Day. I’m sure Colorado Rockies fans loved what they saw Monday, while Cleveand Indians fans wondered what happened to their offense. The Yankees have to wonder what happened as well, however, the issue seems to be with Masahiro Tanaka‘s velocity.

PitchFX data shows that Tanaka averaged 92.5 MPH yesterday. He hit 94 once on the gun. I’m sure some of him being at that 92 MPH level was psychological considering the tear in his elbow. Some may be nerves due to starting his first ever opening day in the states. It’s also the pitcher he is.  

More from Yankees News

According to PitchFX data, Tanaka averaged 93.4 MPH with his fastball. He’s .9 below that. In fact, he is where he was last June where he averaged 92.5 MPH. His sinker averaged 91.1 yesterday, which is just .4 MPH slower than what he was throwing last season.

Here’s another issue that no one is talking about from Monday’s start. Strike percentage. In the first two innings, he was at 64% and almost 68% strikes. His final two innings? 56% and 59%. That isn’t good enough.  Tanaka is going to have to build not only arm strength, but improve his command in order to be more effective. You can get by with 91 on the fastball with that splitter, however, you have to locate it.

Here’s what Aaron Boone said per NJ.com

"I don’t know what direction I’d call it. I would say, I thought it was a little bit concerning. I’m kind of giving him benefit of the doubt. Joe Girardi had talked about still needing to build up that arm strength, and Tanaka and CC Sabathia and being a little bit behind where they hoped he would be within a few starts from now or a month from now or whatever. But he was real sharp early, his offspeed stuff was sharp and his split finger a was very good. My concern is we’re not seeing the same finish on pitches and there’s not a willingness to attack the strike zone. Toronto did a good job of forcing him into the strike zone, knowing he wants to throw his secondary pitches out of the zone. His split, it starts in the zone and they end up out of the zone. Once guys were ale to lay off that, he fell behind and I don’t think key ahas the faith in his fastball to challenge the strikes zone. A big part of his game is getting swings and misses in the strike zone, and I understand you get guys out from outside of the strike zone. He’s have a hard time getting strikes early in the count with his fastball especially and, I think over time that can be problematic for him."

You can’t panic off one so-so start. You have to give Tanaka some time. I know some people want to take a football approach to baseball, but you can’t. It’s too long a season.

I will say this, Sunday night is very important for Tanaka. If that night garners the same results as Monday, there may be an issue on our hands.

More from Yanks Go Yard