What The Masahiro Tanaka Injury Means For The Yankees
In a year that’s been filled with season-ending Tommy John surgeries, it seems one more star will undergo the operation. Masahiro Tanaka learned last week that he has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow and will likely require Tommy John. Tanaka has decided to go through a 6-week rehabilitation process in order to hopefully avoid surgery. If this fails, Tanaka will need surgery and miss about 10-12 months of baseball activity. The concern is always with the injured player, but we do need to examine the impact felt by the New York Yankees.
Tanaka’s injury is the last thing the Yankees needed this season. All together, the Yanks are missing four out of the original five starters they had to start the year. Hiroki Kuroda is the only opening week starter still in the rotation. CC Sabathia is likely out for the year with a knee injury. Michael Pineda‘s return this year is questionable after aggravating the injury in his shoulder. Ivan Nova is the other Yankee pitcher to have undergone Tommy John in 2014.
Any team that loses four starting pitchers would seem destined for last place in their division. However, the Yankees are holding on by mere threads to third place, only trailing the first place Baltimore Orioles by five games. So why are the Yankees still in the hunt for October baseball?
Here is what the Yankees rotation looks like now.
Other than Kuroda, these guys seems like a bunch of misfits trying to imitate a winning team. Strangely, they are winning. Phelps is 3-4 with a 3.96 ERA on the season, but in July, he’s posted a 2.08 ERA in 2 starts. McCarthy was recently acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Vidal Nuno. Brandon’s Dback career wasn’t too attractive, but his lone start with the Yankees wasn’t bad, going 6.2 innings and only allowing one run. Greene and Whitley and both rookies, but have given the Yankees some quality starts. Greene is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA . Whitley hasn’t had as good a start, posting a 3-3 record with a 5.30 ERA, but he is a rookie and could turn things around at any point.
The biggest story in the Bronx now focuses on the offense. In the off season, over 283 million dollars was spent to bring in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. So far this year, we haven’t seen near enough production from them to say they were worth it. If the lack of offense from the three continue, then kiss the playoffs goodbye. These guys are stars though and to say they can’t return to form would be absurd. Count on at least one player to step in up in the coming months.
Another burning question right now is who will be brought in come July 31st? My answer, no one big. The Yankees have too much money committed in players to go after others with already expensive contracts. Also, the Yanks farm system is almost depleted, so big names like David Price and James Shields won’t be available to them. There is a possibility they bring in some role players like Dan Uggla spice things up at second, but that would be about it. Sorry Yankees fans, July 31st will not be that exciting for you.
The Yankees playoff hopes are nearly slashed. No one player can replace Tanaka, especially this late in the season. The offense will need to step it up now that Tanaka is gone to support the rotation. Don’t count them out though. If the starting five hold their ground and the offense returns to 2009 form, you could see the Boys in Pinstripes squeeze out a wild card spot and maybe, just maybe, an AL East title.