The New York Yankees have had some rather uninspired play of late. Some good news bears mentioning as ace Masahiro Tanaka will return following a skip in the rotation last week due to a hamstring issue.
The past month has not been kind to the Yankees’ pitching staff, losing Nathan Eovaldi to injury, Tanaka’s hamstring and the concerning troubles of Iván Nova and Michael Pineda. The ERA for New York during the month of September is 4.09, which is ninth in the AL.
Pineda is 3-1 this month, but his ERA is 4.41 and he was absolutely horrendous during Tuesday’s first inning. He allowed six earned runs before finally settling down as he only allowed one more run through six innings. He’s been very Jekyll and Hyde of late, and appeared to be turning a corner before his latest meltdown.
That’s been the story for the Yankees in general. Win three, lose two and repeat. Tanaka will look to avert a Boston Red Sox sweep, though there might be some rust to shake off. As disappointing as Boston has been, they’ve played much better — 16-10 during September — and boast an offense that’s fifth best in the AL during September.
No matter what Tanaka says or how the Yankees view it, tonight is more or less a tuneup for Tanaka prior to the wild card game next Tuesday night (opponent to be determined). While the Yankees might be able to take care of business against the second wild card team at home, they look like a quick one-and-done in a best-of-five series.
Tanaka is vital to any success they will have, and does provide a 1-2 combo with red-hot Luis Severino (3-1, 3.42 ERA through September), easily the best starter for the Yankees right now. Nova had a decent outing Sept. 23 against the Toronto Blue Jays — 5.2 IP, 1 ER — his first start since a clunker of an outing against the same Jays Sept. 12 — 1.2 IP, six ER.
CC Sabathia has found new life since pitching with the knee brace, posting a 2.25 ERA this month. It’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees manage a series in the playoffs. Tanaka, Severino and CC look promising for six innings, before the shutdown combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller come in.
The Yankees, however, won’t be able to rely on multiple innings out of their key bullpen guys every game. It’s time for Tanaka and the rotation to step up.