Yankees Masahiro Tanaka to Miss Next Start with Forearm Strain
New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka will miss his next scheduled start after being diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his right forearm.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi described the issue that will miss Masahiro Tanaka to miss his next turn through the rotation as a “slight, slight, slight” forearm strain. Apparently the issue is in the lower part of the forearm, well away from Tanaka’s precious UCL, but this is still extremely worrying news for the team.
Tanaka will not pick up a ball or throw for five days before being reevaluated. He was only lined up for two starts the rest of the season anyway, so it seems like there’s a very good chance we’ve seen the last of the Yankees ace, although that is pure speculation on my part.
For what it’s worth, Tanaka sounded confident about returning this season, telling Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, “I should be able to come back strong [this season] so I’m not really worried.”
With their playoff odds extremely slim, Tanaka’s long-term health needs to be the primary concern. If there is any chance of this issue turning into something more serious, he needs to be shut down immediately.
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With 34 starts and 199.2 innings already under his belt, this season has by far been Tanaka’s heaviest workload in the United States. He made 20 starts (136.1 IP) in 2014 and 24 starts (154 IP) last year. Teams generally don’t feel comfortable with an innings increase of more than 50 from year to year, so Tanaka was probably getting fairly close to his limit in any case.
This news certainly isn’t good for Tanaka’s chances of winning the American League Cy Young award this year. The 27-year-old leads the AL in ERA, is second in WAR among pitchers according to Baseball-Reference’s metric, and ranks in the top 10 of most major categories.
It was already a close field, but if Tanaka misses his last two starts, Corey Kluber or Rick Porcello will probably end up pushing him aside in the home stretch.
Any arm injury for Tanaka is always going to make fans hold their breath. Losing him for the 2017 season would be incredibly devastating for the Yankees chances of contending. The rest of the rotation is a complete shambles. Michael Pineda or CC Sabathia as staff ace? Yuck.
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Tanaka has been the team’s MVP this year and it’s not even very close. Without him they are nowhere near the Wild Card race. For my own sanity, I hope he comes back to make one more start for New York this year and shows everyone this was a minor issue so we can all move on with out lives this winter.