New York Yankees News: Masahiro Tanaka Set For Return


After taking over a month off on the DL to recover from tightness in his forearm and the wrist of his pitching arm, the ace of the New York Yankees is set for his return to the major leagues. Masahiro Tanaka will take the hill at 3:40pm EST as the Yankees will look to sweep the Seattle Mariners.

The one question that has hovered over Tanaka like a black cloud since he arrived to camp in February is  how long will his elbow hold up after it suffered a partially torn UCL last July?

After consulting with the Yankees and team doctors, Tanaka elected not to undergo season ending Tommy John surgery, and instead, pitching until he can’t pitch anymore, which can be five pitchers from now, or five years from now.

Obviously this decision was highly scrutinized, especially in the New York media, but to Tanaka’s credit, who’s to say this isn’t the right decision? The one guy I was always like to point at is Chris Carpenter, who suffered the same injury as Tanaka, elected not to have the surgery, and was completely fine after it. As a matter of fact, upon returning from injury, Carpenter was a three time All-Star, 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year, and a 2006 and 2011 World Series Champion.

You can even look at the inconsistent numbers posted by Stephen Strasburg, who suffered the same injury, but did in fact have the Tommy John surgery, and has since been struggling to regain to the dominant form he had when he debuted in 2010.

"“Health is too hard to predict,” skipper Joe Girardi, told Billy Witz of The New York Times. You see healthy guys go out there — Chase Whitley, who had never had a problem before. It happens. I think with all your starters, I think you’re more apt to keep your fingers crossed that they stay healthy than expect it.”"

As the ace is set to return, he’s gearing up to lead the Yankees – who have not been to the playoffs the last two years and are clinging onto a 1.0 game lead for first place in their mediocre division – back to the promised land, which is known in the Bronx as October baseball. The season is still young, but a trip to the playoffs is there for the taking, and should Masahiro Tanaka remain healthy, the Yankees should remain the frontrunners.

Tanaka is the type of player we like to define as a difference maker. Last season he was absolutely outstanding leading up to his injury, and was a potential Cy young candidate.  The last time he pitched in Seattle was on June 11th, 2014, a complete game in which he tossed a a six-hitter, striking out 11 and walking one en route to a 4-2 Yankees victory. His record at the time improved to 10-1 with a 2.02 ERA.

He looked just as dominant this season. Prior to his DL-stint, he allowed just two hits in seven innings of a 9-0 win over Tampa Bay and followed that up with another strong performance in which he allowed three hits in 6.1 innings of a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.

All eyes are officially on Masahiro Tanaka … again.

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