Potential Injury to Masahiro Tanaka Should Send New York Yankees Scrambling

By Christopher Gamble
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees lost Ivan Nova. Then they lost Michael Pineda. Then C.C. Sabathia went down. Now, Masahiro Tanaka has been flown back to New York to have an MRI on his right arm just one night after his worst start as a Major Leaguer that saw him surrender 10 hits and five runs over 6.2 innings. This news couldn’t be worse for the Yankees at this point.

Despite losing three-fifths of their starting rotation, the Yankees were still within striking distance in the American League East as they sit just four games behind the Baltimore Orioles. However, if Tanaka is out for an extended period of time this could be disastrous for the Yankees. Tanaka has compiled an MLB-best 12 wins to go along with a sterling 2.51 ERA and 9.4 K/9 across 129.1 innings and 18 starts. He emerged as the favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award and was contending for a Cy Young award in the process.

George King broke the news only a little while ago but the Yankees have to be immediately thinking about what their next move can be. The bullpen was getting taxed with Chase Whitley, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno. Now, Brandon McCarthy is set to make his Yankees debut as he replaces Nuno and Shane Greene looked good enough in his start the other night to possibly replace Whitley. However, McCarthy comes with a lengthy injury history and Greene is as unknown as Whitley. That leaves a rotation of Hiroki Kuroda, David Phelps and three question marks.

Maybe Tanaka just needs to skip a start. Maybe he needs a stint on the disabled list. Maybe Tanaka needs surgery. There are a lot of questions right now but GM Brian Cashman must become aggressive in adding arms to the rotation before the bullpen is blown.

The trade market is humming. The Chicago Cubs shipped a couple of starters off after spurning the Yankees’ offer in favor of the more enticing offer from the Oakland Athletics. Now, the Yankees must look elsewhere. There are arms to be had. There is John Danks and his hefty salary who has pitched fairly well for the Chicago White Sox since returning from Tommy John surgery last year. There is Cliff Lee and his $50-60 million left on the Philadelphia Phillies payroll. He is currently on the DL but is making rehab starts and should return soon. Maybe the Yankees have enough to make a run at Cole Hamels.

The Yankees were in desperate need of a starter before this potential injury to Tanaka. Now, they are I crisis mode. Expect the Yankees to become more aggressive in finding arms, whether from their own system which is barren at the upper levels or from those in DFA limbo while they try to work out a trade for a starter who can lend a real helping hand.

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