Midseason Report Card: Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka comes in as another player for the Yankees this season who is proving that a strong Spring Training does not in any way correlate to a good regular season (looking at you too, Greg Bird). Much of Tanaka's first half can be regarded as an absolutely disaster. He did save himself from a failing grade due to a few big performances, but he has also faltered in many cases where the club needed him.
First Half Performance:
From the get-go, you look at Tanaka's numbers, and they are pretty appalling. It's even worse to think that his numbers were bad from his first start of the season on Opening Day at Tropicana Field where he went just 2.2 innings and allowed seven earned runs, including two home runs.
Things haven't gotten much better since then, as Tanaka has been a home run machine allowing a second-worst in the American League 23 home runs. To this point, Tanaka has gone 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 5.03 FIP. Opposing hitters are also hitting a career worst .276 off Tanaka. One of his biggest issues in the discrepancy between his day/night splits where he has an 0-5 record with a 14.81 ERA in day games, and a 7-3 record with a 3.10 ERA in night games. Opposing hitters have hit .419 off him in the day compared to just .227 in night games.
Tanaka has had some bright spots, including his three-hit shutout gem at Fenway where he out-dueled Chris Sale on April 27. He had another great performance nearly a month later with 13 strikeouts over 7.1 innings against Oakland. However, he's had three outings where he has allowed at least seven earned runs, and most notably was on Derek Jeter day on May 14 where he lasted just 1.2 innings and gave up eight earned runs and four home runs.
Second Half Expectations:
Despite his disastrous first half, I have held onto faith that Tanaka can turn it around. I've seen the pitcher he's been the past three years, and I think he has it in him to return to form. Tanaka has shown flashes of being an ace, but he has been far from it to this point. If there's any chance he opts out of his contract, he will have to show teams that he has that ace ability with a strong second half.
There have been plenty of pitchers that have gotten paid a ridiculous amount who are far less talented than Tanaka, and if he can put together a solid second half, there is still hope that he will ultimately opt out of his contract with the New York Yankees. At the end of the day, I'm not sure he will end up opting out, but I do have confidence he can become a more than formidable middle of the rotation arm down the stretch. I'm just now sure I give him the ball in a one game Wild Card playoff if it comes to that for the Yankees in 2017.
Tanaka has become one of the most disliked Yankee players on a 2017 team that has had Chris Carter, Tyler Clippard, and others. The 28-year-old righty needs to figure things out quickly if he hopes to end his season with a respectable numbers, and that is entirely possible. He will be one of the biggest players to watch in the second half and can really dictate how far the Yankees take their potential playoff run this year.
Article by: Chad RainesFollow @chad_rain Follow @BronxBomberBall