New York Yankees Postseason Previews: Tonight Tanaka wants to take the Yankees to the ALDS

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka
Sep 26, 2018; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the New York Yankees faced the Cleveland Indians best pitcher, Shane Bieber, this year’s Cy Young Award presumptive winner. The Indians faced the Yankee ace Gerrit Cole, a hardened postseason veteran. The Yankees have 40 AL pennants and 27 World Championships in their resume.  Last night experience won over hype.  The Yankees took game one of the Wild Card Series 12-3. Cole stuck out a record 13 Indians in seven innings of work, giving up just two earned runs, six hits while walking no one.  For Bieber’s part, he was immediately shocked by the Yankees when he gave up two runs in the very first inning.  Bieber lasted only 4.2 innings, giving up seven earned runs.  The Indians bullpen couldn’t control the Yankees either. The Yankees used only Cole and Luis Cessa out of the bullpen.

The New York Yankees had an up and down season with long stretches of wins and losses, as they suffered injuries reminiscent of the 2019 season when they had an unprecedented number of injuries.  Although the season was inconsistent, the Yankees found a way to get to the postseason.  Much of the New York Yankees’ success can be attributed to the purchase during the offseason of the best available pitcher on the market. The Houston Astros co-ace Gerrit Cole became a New York Yankee. Not to be overlooked, two players stood out in the season. DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit. LeMahieu was only on the IL for ten days, nevertheless will be the AL Batting Champ and the only player in baseball history to win the title in both leagues. Voit, for his part, while having foot issues, powered through them, and will have the most home runs of anyone in baseball.

The Yankee powerhouse became evident right away last night. Aaron Judge homered in the first inning on the very first pitch he saw from Bieber. At the top of the fifth inning, Gleyber Torres got another homer for the Yankees. Veteran Brett Gardner added his own two-run homer in the seventh. The Yankee’s final home run of the night was in the ninth, as Giancarlo Stanton added a solo shot. All in all, New York Yankee home runs drove in seven runs.  The other five runs were gotten by good old fashioned Yankee small ball. The Yankees last night showed the world they are a team to be contended with and have taken the first step to getting their 28th World Championship.

Tonight the New York Yankees will want to continue their powerful play and excellent errorless defense.  The Yankees will face Carlos Carrasco, who was 3-4 with a respectable 2.91, but with five no-decisions in his season with the Indians.  When Carrasco hits the mound tonight, it will be his third postseason appearance. Carrasco has pitched well in his postseason games.  In two previous games, he pitched a total of five and a half innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out ten and having an ERA of just 1.64.

The New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound tonight for the Yankees. Tanaka is a big-time postseason veteran. This season he went 3-3 in ten starts with an ERA of 3.56. Tanaka was never, except for the first year of his seven-year contract, the Yankees number one starter, but what he has been is dependable and reliable.  Tanaka is a cross between Andy Pettitte’s reliability and Orlando Hernandez’s big-game sturdiness. Tanaka, in his eight postseason starts, in his Yankee career is 5-3 with a super low ERA of 1.76.  Tanaka, when he is on, is nearly unhittable. He has been known to give up home runs, something he will try to protect against tonight.

Whenever this postseason ends for the New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka will become a free agent for the first time since he has been in this country.  Any pitcher that becomes a free agent this season will face a questionable future. With teams losing money this season, there won’t be much money to go around.  Tanaka would like to stay with the Yankees, and a win tonight will go a long way to make that a reality.

“I just thought to myself it has been seven years and it has been a quick seven years,” Tanaka said Tuesday before the Yankees’ 12-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 1. “It is kind of an end to a chapter in a way, just that thought of being there for a good seven years that is what came to my mind in Buffalo.”

Aaron Boone said he hopes Tanaka is back, citing him as a “great example for any player watching to want to latch onto … he is super prepared. Takes great care of himself. Obviously, he is completely dedicated and great at his craft. It is fun watching how precise he is and how precise he expects himself to be. He’s been a very consistent Yankee performer in all his years here.”

Tanaka will want to seal the deal tonight and prevent the Yankee team from going to a winner take all third Wild Card game, as the Yankees haven’t even decided who might start that game.  Tanaka will need help getting that done tonight; if he has the kind of run support Cole got last night, he should succeed.

If the New York Yankees can win this matchup with the Cleveland Indians, they will go on to what appears to be Petco Park in San Diego and face the winner of the Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays Wild Card Series. The Rays are presently up one game in that series.  If the Yankees can win the ALDS, they will remain in the “bubble” and play the ALCS at Petco. If they can win that, they will then travel to Globe Life Field, a  brand new park in Arlington, Texas, for their first World Series appearance since 2009 when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies four games to two for their 27th World Championship.