Things took a turn for the worse as the official start of spring training 2.0 kicked off last Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka took a line drive to the right side of his head from slugger Giancarlo Stanton, with less than an hour into his workout.
Tanaka, 31, is expected to be an integral component to the Yankees’ pitching rotation, which is led by Gerrit Cole. But given the bizarre state of affairs in Major League Baseball due to teams having to compete in the coronavirus era, Tanaka would most likely have more designated responsibilities bestowed upon him. This would be a forgone conclusion if the Yankees decide on using a 4-man rotation.
But as Tanaka laid down on the mound grimacing in pain, it wasn’t just his future that appeared grim, but the rest of the Yankees pitching rotation may have sunk deeper in quicksand. And although, Tanaka was cleared prior to being discharged from New York-Presbyterian Hospital; he is still diagnosed with having a mild concussion nonetheless.
A breakdown of the Yankees pitching depth will reveal some questionable facts that may impede a run at winning a title.
Starting pitcher Luis Severino had Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. Severino will miss the remainder of the 2020 season and will most likely miss a good portion of the 2021 season as well.
The Yankees have also lost the services of starting pitcher Domingo German for the entire season. German was suspended by Major League Baseball for 81 games for his involvement in a domestic violence incident.
Left-hander James Paxton is far from being 100% physically. Paxton is still recovering from lower back surgery five months ago. On a recent Zoom conference call, Pitching Coach Matt Blake shared with the media that Paxton will be attending a summer camp in the weeks to come.
Moving right along, J.A. Happ is 37-years-old and had a shaky 2019, which included an ERA of 5. Lastly, the number five starter Jordan Montgomery had Tommy John surgery 2 years ago. The Yankees are banking on the fact that he has fully healed. There’s no guarantee that this is the case but obviously should something negative arise, it will be exposed during the summer workout.
Cole can’t do it all, he can only start a maximum of 12 games. He needs a strong healthy supporting cast to pitch behind him. Within 72-hours the Yankees went from being heavy favorites to win the World Series to now having a depleted pitching rotation.
With the commencement of spring training 2.0, all 30 teams in the league are prepping for the upcoming season in their respective ball parks. All teams will play a total of 60 games over the span of 66 days. The breakdown of the schedule includes 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games. The Yankees begin the shortened season on July 23 against the Washington Nationals. The Yankees will face the 2019 World Series champions on the road.
As it stands now Tanaka is required to undergo a concussion protocol. The Yankees have confirmed that they will monitor the righty’s health on a regular basis. It appears that the Yankees haven’t changed their mind, and the decision of utilizing Tanaka as the second option in the cypher.
But it’s unclear when Tanaka will be able to pitch again.
Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman should look to make a trade before the deadline on August 31. Cashman should look to acquire the services of Trevor Bauer of the Cincinatti Reds, who may be looking to save some money and get something in return for their starting pitcher.