Tanaka Will Miss Over A Years Worth Of Work In 7 Season Contract From ‘TJS’ Avoidance

Pitching with a partially torn UCL in his pitching arm since july of 2014, the Yankees and Tanaka's camp have avoided having Tommy John Surgery thus far, but how far can they go in avoiding the procedure. I also make the point that even if the Yankees ace somehow eludes the injury for the duration of his 7 year contract - that the fans are only seeing him at 85 - 90%. I thought the move was to have TJ Surgery have been able to turn it lose upon returning.

Pitching with a partially torn UCL in his pitching arm since July of 2014, the Yankees and Tanaka’s camp have avoided having Tommy John Surgery thus far, but how far can they go in avoiding the procedure? I also make the point that even if the Yankees ace somehow eludes the injury for the duration of his 7 year contract – that the fans are only seeing him at 85 – 90%. I thought the move was to have TJ Surgery in 2014, and upon returning from it, he would be able to turn it lose like an ace should.

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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What is better:  5 Years and an average of 200 Innings Thrown, or 6 years of throwing 150 – 165 IP?

The diagnosis of Masahiro Tanaka‘s slightly torn elbow was first disclosed in July of 2014.  Had he gone for Tommy John Surgery there for  repair, he could be back at full strength right about now in time.

Instead of going ahead with a procedure (that is operating at about an 86% rate of full return for pitchers,) the Japanese born Tanaka has been nursing the injury since the start of the 2015 season.

Having signed a 7 year deal worth $155 MIL – that also included a $20 MIL posting fee, the Yankees were hoping to land an ace that could pivot their rotation from 2014 – 2020.

While it is amazing the man can even throw with this lingering issue, Tanaka authored a great WHIP of 0.994 and a respectable ERA of 3.51 in 24 Game Starts during 2015.  Here is the problem though, he missed 2 months of the season when his elbow flared up. 

The Yankees GM has been skating a thin line of depth on the rotation since mid 2014. So far, the Yankees are extremely lucky that Tanaka has been effective, combined with Michael Pineda being healthy. Sabathia and Nova should also be on short leashes at the end of the rotation.

The Yankees GM has been skating a thin line of depth on the rotation since mid 2014. So far, the Yankees are extremely lucky that Tanaka has been effective, combined with Michael Pineda being healthy. Sabathia and Nova should also be on short leashes at the end of the rotation.

Rarely does Joe Girardi ever let him throw more than 100 pitches in a contest either, as the Yankees ace only registered that many in 9 of 24 Game Starts last season.

As good as Tanaka was in 2015, his Homer Rate went up, His SO rate went down, and he authored an ERA that was three quarters of a run higher than his Rookie Year, where he was more durable and effective – with 14 of his starts eclipsing 100 pitches or more.

The Yankees have compensated for the lack of innings that the entire Starting Rotation seems to lack, with ever pressing injury issues to Michael Pineda, high pitch count of Nathan Eovaldi, the Innings limit the club will set forth for Luis Severino, and of course Tanaka – with a dominant Bullpen.

The brass has also traded away many depth SP like  David Phelps, Adam Warren  and Shane Greene (also had Chase Whitley was claimed off of waivers following his own TJ surgery) – and only brought back Nathan Eovaldi in those transactions as a Starter.

Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro were acquired from Warren and Greene deals so not debating the merits of trades – as both may be cornerstones in the Infield for the next handful of year.

The idea is that they did not address the depth with any Free Agents or trades in the winter, so if there are a few injuries to the Yankees rotation, this could get ugly.

Luis Severino has also added his arm to the Major League Level since the middle of last year. Honestly, are they going to throw him for any more Innings than Tanaka in 2016? Probably not.

I will always think they did not do the right thing here in avoiding the TJ procedure right then and there during 2014.

We have already stated the best case scenario for Tanaka.  It is almost a guarantee that he will be shut down for 6 – 8 starts every year based on his health concerns.  Over the course of the next 5 campaigns that equates to a full season worth of starts.

Maybe the Yankees will win the World Series in this time frame, and that would be a way to justify the decision back then.

2016 would represent the franchise’s best chance with having late inning anchors Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances shortening the game to 6 or 7 innings before they lock the contests down.

If New York does win a title in the next 5 years I will eat my words here.  Whatever ends up happening in 2016, the management had better have a model plan to add plenty of Starters to the fold for the next several seasons.

The worst case scenario is that Tanaka will eventually tear his UCL clean anyway – ultimately to be sidelined 12 – 18 months.  Hopefully this is no occur this season where the depth is razor thin.

Another thing that comes into play is his salary.  Should he play the entire duration of his deal without needing the surgery, and author his 24 – 26 Game Starts, the Yankees would not get a full return on their dollars invested.  At least if he were to do TJS, than the club could collect insurance.

This will continue to intrigue me something fierce. What is Tanaka’s exact percentage of health right now:  85 – 90%?  Until this arm finally blows, the Yanks fans will hold their collective breath each time he takes the mound.

There is no doubt that New York will have to be proactive in trading, acquiring and signing pitchers in Free Agency over the next 12 - 18 months. The health of the whole Starting Staff is always going to be a concern - and there is only so many innings that can be doled out to the Relief Core.

There is no doubt that New York will have to be proactive in trading, acquiring and signing pitchers in Free Agency over the next 12 – 18 months. The health of the whole Starting Staff is always going to be a concern, that begins with the Tanaka elbow as the biggest worry – and there is only so many innings that can be doled out to the Relief Core.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of bbba.work and their other members***

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A big thanks goes out to our featured writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s post.

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About hunterstokes21

I Played NCAA Baseball at Liberty University in the 90's with Sid Bream's kid Sheldon. Once Hit a Home Run by hitting a hot air balloon that was coming over 2nd base (It was agreed that if a balloon was hit before game by the umpires and coaches - even though they were setting up in LF/CF Bleachers). I believe in the "Church Of Baseball". Come in for worship anytime.

Posted on April 14, 2016, in MLB Reports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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