We can now add Masahiro Tanaka to the list of Yankees who believe they were cheated out of the World Series by the Houston Astros during the 2017 postseason.
Tanaka arrived in Tampa a couple of days early before Yankees pitchers and catchers officially report for the start of Spring Training on Wednesday. Expectations are extremely high for Tanaka and his teammates this season but before camp gets underway he answered some questions from members of the media about the Astros sign-stealing scandal.
One of the questions Tanaka was asked was whether or not he felt cheated now knowing that the Astros illegally stole signs to help them beat the Yankees in the ALCS. “Yeah you do feel that way,” said the right-hander, per Dan Martin of the New York Post.
Tanaka joins CC Sabathia and Gary Sanchez who were both on the 2017 Yankees in thinking that the team was robbed of a chance to face the Dodgers in the World Series. Now that he’s retired CC didn’t hold back at all when addressing the scandal on his R2C2 podcast by saying that the Yankees would’ve whooped the Dodgers in the Fall Classic had they advanced past Houston. After defeating New York in seven games the Astros went on to beat LA in seven games as well but their title will forever be tainted after the MLB’s investigation revealed they cheated.
It had to be extremely disappointing to read the Commissioner’s report for Tanaka especially because he did everything he could to help the Yankees go deep into the postseason in 2017. He was outstanding in three starts posting an ERA of 0.70 over 20 innings. Against Houston, he went 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 11 K’s in 13 innings. The loss came in a 2-1 defeat at Houston where all the sign-stealing reportedly took place.
This past October Tanaka was on the mound in Game 1 of the ALCS at Houston when the Yankees accused the Astros of whistling to relay his signs to their hitters. Whether they did or did not Tanaka was still able to dominate the Houston lineup by allowing only one hit over six scoreless innings in the Yankees 7-0 win to add to his incredible postseason resume.
Now-former Houston manager AJ Hinch called the Yankees allegations ridiculous prior to Game 4, but I think we can all agree now it’s Hinch and his players who look the most ridiculous. Hinch was asked about that memorable media session in an interview with MLB Network that aired on Friday in what was his first public appearance since being suspended for a year and then fired.
He also expressed some remorse about not doing more to stop his team’s garbage banging system in 2017 but as for the Astros possibly using buzzers to cheat during the 2019 ALCS, he didn’t exactly deny anything. He had every opportunity to do so but instead, all he would say was that the commissioner did a very thorough investigation and he agreed with the findings.
In non-Astros related news, Tanaka revealed that he is good to go without any restraints this spring after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip in his elbow in late October. That’s great news for the Yanks as they’re going to need Tanaka to step up early in the season with James Paxton potentially out of action until June following back surgery last week.
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2020 is also a contract year for Masa so he should be extra motivated to have a much better regular season en route to helping the Yankees win their first World Series title since 2009.