Yankees News: Chase Whitley Vying for Tanaka’s Spot in the Rotation
Chase Whitley is doing with a minimum major league contract what Masahiro Tanaka couldn’t do with $175 million: pitch well enough while staying healthy. Throughout his first two starts, Whitley has posted an ERA of 0.75, striking out 11 while allowing just one earned run. In contrast, during Tanaka’s first two games this season, he posted an ERA of 3.50, striking out 10 but allowing 7 earned runs resulting in an 1-0 record.
Swarm and Sting
During his last game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Whitley pitched 7 innings and allowed 6 hits, however, not one run crossed the plate on his watch. To put that achievement in perspective, the Blue Jay currently lead the league in offense. Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, arguably the most dangerous hitter in that lineup, had two turns against Whitley only to strike out twice against the young pitcher.
“I just tried to not let the moment get too big,” Whitley said. “Once we got the first out, and then once we had an opportunity to strike the guy out, that was kind of when I got going. Before, I might have tried to do too much early. … I think that’s where you have to take a step back, breathe and juts go for it.”
Whitley’s evolution has truly come full circle. At the end of Spring Training the New York Yankees sent Whitley down to triple AAA because they didn’t have room in their starting lineup. He’s making the most of this opportunity and Girardi has taken notice. “I think he’s matured, and I think his stuff has gotten better,” Girardi said. “His location has continued to improve as a starter.”
While its true that Tanaka has been injured of late, the truth of the matter is that when he got injured last year, he should have gone with the operation instead of rehab. Now he’s pitching differently to compensate for his UCL injury. His current injury (forearm strain) is a precursor to UCL injuries, which he already has. If Tanaka doesn’t start making healthy decisions, he may find himself in the wrong side of a trade. Meanwhile, Whitley couldn’t be happier. “I’m just thankful for this opportunity,” he said.
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