Through 18 starts in the MLB, the New York Yankees looked like they struck gold with the offseason signing of SP Masahiro Tanaka. He had a 2.51 ERA with a sizzling 1.01 WHIP. He struck out 135 batters in 129.1 batters, while only walking 19 batters. He was sitting atop all fantasy baseball pitchers before hitting the DL at the beginning of July with a partially torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right below.
Tanaka has been rehabbing hard to make a comeback before the end of the season. He has been working on long toss and appears to be close to returning. He recently started a throwing program, and if everything goes well, he will begin a bullpen session later this week.
Is he still worth keeping in fantasy, though?
The main thing that could hurt Tanaka’s keeper potential is if the Yanks decide to rush him back. The team is falling out of the playoff race more each day, and there is no need to rush their franchise arm back to make only a handful of starts. He already has a partially torn UCL, so the fireballer could require Tommy John surgery within the next couple seasons. If that is the case, the team would be better off having him get the surgery as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it is still a waiting game.
Regardless, though, I still think Tanaka is worth keeping. He has proven to be an innings warrior (3 CG) and his strikeout numbers were outstanding. He has potential to be a top-10 arm next fantasy season, and barring any setbacks, he will be worth the gamble in keeper formats.