Yankees playoffs: The baby bombers are serving notice in the ALDS
The Yankees Rising Son
Not that the Hiro needed much saving. Another young Yankee—Tanaka is still just 28—is today the living embodiment of another playoff trueism, that a single great playoff performance can redeem a lost season.
That is not meant to say that Tanaka didn’t contribute to the success of the Yankees season. His feast or famine pitching performances still accounted for some big wins. But when you’re the ace, and you finish the season with a 4.44 ERA, you need to find some redemption.
And when you go out and throw seven shutout innings in a season saving game, safe to say you’ve found it. Especially when you strike out seven, walk only one and give up three little hits. That’s controlling the game.
That is not to say that Hiro has completely rehabilitated his reputation. When the emotions die down, his season will loom a lot larger. But that will probably benefit the Yankees.
A Playoff Prism
It is still hard to imagine Tanaka opting out. He might now have enough leverage to extend his Yankees contract by one year, though. And that would be worth it to Joe and Cash.
The Yankees play for championships and figure they can throw enough talent at teams to qualify for the tournament. They know that once in, it is no longer about depth but about having the best postseason players. So, the Yankees tend to opt for free agents with at least some proven postseason success.
It’s why they opted for an older Beltran and erratic Ellsbury: Both had performed at high levels in previous postseasons. Hiro might not have done enough to warrant enough outside interest, but he has already shown himself a fit for the Yankees mold.
They’ll be happy if his regular season allows them to keep Tanaka. Especially if he continues to pitch like he did in Game 3. And Greg Bird continues to hit game-winning solo shots.