The disturbing and troubling season of Masahiro Tanaka continued last night when he gave up 5 runs, including 3 HR in 5 IP as the Yanks lost to Boston 5-4.
Tanaka had such a great spring training. His fall from ace to Kei-Igawa-like performances has been shocking.
The loss decreases the Yanks’ lead over Boston to one game. The Yankees are 32-23.
That 32-23 has been built strangely. They started 1-4, went 20-5 over the next 25, and are 11-14 in their last 25.
Even though they are still in first place, there are a couple of problem areas that need to be addressed, and let’s start with Tanaka.
With the Yanks 10-11 in their last 21 games (stats via Joel Sherman’s NY Post article), Tanaka is 0-5, 10.72 in that span. If Tanaka was his old ace-like self, he would have gone, say 4-1. Now the Yanks would be 14-7 in this span and we wouldn’t be as concerned.
The season is just over 1/3 over, and Tanaka has already given up 17 HR.
They need to get him straightened out. But how? He is earning so much $$ and $$ talks. Can they just pull him from the rotation? Who would replace him? Chad Green, who was fabulous in relief last night? Chance Adams? They would need to create a roster spot for Adams (who pitched last night also, see my minor league report) who isn’t on the 40-man roster.
Boston got a run right away in the first inning on a couple of singles and an RBI forceout. The Yanks tied it in the second on a walk to Hicks, single by Didi, and Hicks scored on a throwing error by Boston RF Mookie Betts.
But in the fourth, Tanaka gave up three runs on back-to-back homers. He gave up another HR in the fifth and Boston was up 5-1. The Yanks couldn’t come all the way back.
Chris Carter (a problem we’ll get to in a bit) hit his fifth HR of the year in the bottom of the fifth to cut Boston’s lead to 5-2.
Castro and Hicks singled in the sixth, and Castro scored when Didi GIDP.
The Yanks got a break in the eighth that made you think maybe the gods were with them and they’d pull it out. Matt Holliday doubled and went to third on a groundout. After Hicks popped up, Didi Gregorius struck out for what should have been the third out, but the ball was a wild pitch and Didi reached, Holliday scoring to cut the lead to 5-4. You thought with a break like that, maybe…
Tanaka (L, 5-6, 6.55) 5 IP, 5 R, 5 H, 1 W, 2 K. Gave up 3 HR.
Layne 0 IP, 0 r, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K. 7.50. More on him in a bit.
Green 3 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 5 K. 1.62. See above. Replacement for Tanaka? Did great.
Shreve 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 w, 1 K. 0.57.
Judge, Hicks and Gregorius each had two hits. Carter had the HR.
But even with Carter’s HR, 1B is a position that the Yanks need improvement on. Bird was 6 for 60 (.100-1-3) and Carter is 21 for 115 (.183-5-15). So that is a combined 27 for 175, which comes out to .154-6-18. Somehow, the Yanks are in first place despite getting the worst production in MLB from their first basemen.
3B also is a problem. Chase Headley is down to .225, and rumors are that the Yanks are shopping for a 3B. Rumors also are that if Gleyber Torres starts adjusting to AAA pitching, that the Yanks may bring him up to play 3B, with Headley moving to a backup 1B/3B role, which would mean cutting Carter (Carter $3.5 MM left for this year, Headley is owed the rest of $13MM this year and $13MM for 2018).
Headley is at .225-3-23, but since April 18, has hit .168-1-19 in his last 37 games. When you take what he is doing at 3B, and the lack of production at 1B, it’s like the Yanks are playing with a 7-man lineup. That can’t continue if they want to stay in first place. Headley hasn’t homered since April 19.
So the Yanks desperately need to get better production from 1B, 3B and Tanaka. We’ll see how and if that happens.
The final thing may be minor. Tommy Layne hasn’t performed that well, and the Yanks do have a solution there if necessary. Tyler Webb has been doing well at SWB and could be a replacement for Layne. LOOGY for LOOGY.