Yankees: Checking in on Masahiro Tanaka after his season debut in Japan
Want a shred of somewhat good news, New York Yankees fans?
Oh no … no it’s not about this team. It’s about a former player the fans know and love.
Masahiro Tanaka, who was not re-signed this offseason after general manager Brian Cashman opted to go with two new options (Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon) in the rotation, returned to his native Japan to play for his former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
The right-hander made his season debut on Saturday and struck out the first batter he saw!
He didn’t get the win after allowing three runs across five innings of work, but that was mostly due to a poor offensive showing from the Golden Eagles, who scored one run on three hits throughout the game.
This was Tanaka’s first outing since October. Those runs he was charged with came on four hits and a walk.
The positivity ended after that moment. Tanaka took the loss against the worst team in Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League and the Golden Eagles missed a chance to take sole possession of second place Seibu Lions.
That’s the welcome back home Tanaka gets after seven years of playing overseas? Man, nothing is going right for current and former Yankees this year.
Tanaka’s departure was depressing enough, then we learned that it was speculated he left because of anti-Asian discrimination in the US (though that was cleared up through a translator and deemed untrue). Nonetheless, he gave seven good years to the Yankees and was essentially tossed aside in favor of less reliable options from a recent body of work standpoint.
And now how ironic is it that the Yankees are desperate for length in their starting rotation? Over his 174 games with the Bombers, Tanaka averaged six innings per outing. Not the greatest, but when your rotation has only four starts that have gone six innings or longer across the first 14 games, it’s really not a good look that this is the guy you let go.
But alas, it came down to money for the franchise that’s worth $5 billion. It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it?
We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for Tanaka’s 100th career win in Japan, which will hopefully come in his next outing. Stateside, we’ll just be waiting for another Yankees starter to get out of the fourth inning.