New York Yankees: 2020 is the most important season of Masahiro Tanaka’s career

Nathan Solomon
New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka
Oct 12, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts against the Houston Astros in the second inning in game one of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka may be entering the most important season of his career in 2020. The 31-year-old has a seven-year, $155 million contract expiring at the end of the season.

From what we’ve seen and heard, Tanaka wants to be a Yankee still. At the end of the 2017 season, he chose not to opt-out of his contract and stay in New York. But, we’ll see if the feeling is mutual after the season.

Tanaka has been super inconsistent with the Yankees. He will have periods where he is completely dominant and pitching shut-outs, and other periods where he gets completely shelled. For example, in May of 2019, batters hit .234 off him while batters hit .314 off of him in the final month of the season.

His ERA over the six years is a 3.75 over 163 starts. He’s pitched just over 1000 innings and has a 75-43 record. He has, however, made two all-star games, including 2019.

But, where Tanaka’s made his money is in the postseason. In eight career postseason starts, he has a 1.76 ERA. In the 2017 postseason, he was responsible for seven shut-out innings of game three in the ALDS to keep the Yankees alive. They would win that series a few nights later. Three of his eight postseason starts were scoreless and allowed just one run in two others.

So, dependent on how Tanaka pitches in 2020 is whether the Yankees bring him back and for how much. The team does need to be careful since they already have a high payroll and several young stars entering free agency in a few years.

If there is somehow no 2020 season, the team needs to take a chance on him and resign him. But hopefully, there will be a season, and Tanaka can show the Yankees his value.