When a pitcher usually has a brutal outing, the first question is what pitches the pitcher didn’t have working for him and what he plans on doing to make his next outing a success. In the case of Masahiro Tanaka, the first question anyone would ask is “how’s his elbow?”. Tanaka continues to insist his elbow is fine and he’s pitching with no worries, but many are beginning to question it after Tanaka had back-to-back brutal outings, this time giving up six runs in five innings of work against the Houston Astros.
Tanaka is still labeled the Yankees ace in the clubhouse, and Joe Girardi insists the elbow isn’t the issue, but rather Tanaka’s mechanics which they hope to have sorted out before his next start.
“We’ll get it ironed out,” Girardi said after last night’s 9-6 win over the Astros. “We know what he’s capable of doing.”
Tanaka himself feels rather calm. He explained that he used to go through these stretches when he was in Japan, and it happening here is nothing new. However, with his elbow injury last season, everyone’s on alert and immediately pointing fingers towards his elbow, questioning if it really is as healthy as perceived.
“Just kept missing my spots, wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do,” Tanaka said after his brutal outing. “But I just have to keep on working at it and get it right.”
The team agrees with Tanaka, and they continue to stick with the story that his elbow is 100% okay. Maybe the Yankees are downplaying the issue, or maybe Tanaka really doesn’t feel anything in the elbow. The key indicator the Yankees believe Tanaka’s elbow is fine is his velocity.
“I think if you see a guy throwing 93, 94 [mph] and he’s not holding his arm, you feel pretty good about his health,” Girardi said.
Although Tanaka’s velocity was good, Tanaka himself wasn’t, and the Yankees need to get Tanaka back on track so he can go back to his dominant self and not be another inconsistent pitcher in the starting rotation.