New York Yankees: Which Tanaka are we going to get in the Postseason?

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees’ starting rotation has been without a doubt the biggest question mark of the season for the team so far.

One of those question marks is Masahiro Tanaka. He has been a bit inconsistent this year with an 8-6 record, a 4.64 ERA, and a 1.26 WHIP (MLB At-Bat). However, he was elected to the All-Star game, in Cleveland this year, and earned a win in his one-inning appearance. In his outing on August 11th, 2019, Tanaka was able to give the Yankees the start they needed by posting 8 innings, 3 hits, no earned runs, and 4 strikeouts (MLB At-Bat). Unfortunately, this kind of start only happens about once a month, mixed in with his below-average starts.

One concern that has seemed to go unnoticed by the Yankees organization; Tanaka’s elbow stability. He suffered a slight UCL tear in his right elbow that did not require surgery in 2014 (Newsday). His fastball and splitter velocities have been declining every year since that tear. Tanaka cannot recall the last assessment with the team doctors and the injury does not seem to worry him.

Tanaka has been very reliable in the postseason for the Yankees

In his career, he has only given up 5 earned runs in 30 innings pitched, which equates to a 1.50 earned-run average. Last year, he made one appearance in the playoffs against the Boston Red Sox. He allowed one earned run, on 3 hits, in 5 innings (Baseball Reference). His performance was the only win the Yankees achieved in a 3-1 series loss to the defending World Series champions.

Tanaka seems to turn up to another level when he makes a start in the postseason. The Yankees expect him to continue his dominance against the competitive American League this postseason as well. To get to the World Series, the Yankees are going to have to defeat Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and the newly acquired Zack Greinke of the Houston Astros. This is assuming the Yankees and Astros take care of business in the American League Division Series. All hands are going to be on deck to take down the familiar foe in the Astros. Especially, Tanaka, who has the potential to forever enshrine his legacy as one of the greatest postseason pitchers in New York Yankees history. As for the rest of the rotation, other than German, they will need to be on their “A-games” to hopefully bring the 28th crown back to the Bronx.

New York Yankees: Three Players That Need to Perform During the Playoffs

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

After falling just short of the ultimate end goal the past two years, it’s evident that the New York Yankees need everybody ready for the bright lights of the postseason. Players like Didi Gregorius and Masahiro Tanaka have performed quite well in the playoffs but there have also been guys that have struggled and they’re still on this 2019 team! Below are three guys that need to solidify their playoff status this October.

Aaron Judge

He is arguably one of the most recognizable figures in baseball and his ability to hit the long ball are the main reason why. In just 351 career games, Judge already has 95 regular-season home runs. That may not seem like a lot to some, but it must be noted that he’s missed a lot of this season with an injury as well as last season with a fractured wrist. Even with his regular-season accolades, Judge has simply not been as consistent when the games really mattered. Because his career is still young and he hasn’t had a large enough sample size to dud him as a player who “chokes” in the playoffs, it’s unfair to say that he will underperform come playoff time. One thing is for certain though, the New York Yankees need Aaron Judge to have a hot bat in a few months.

Gary Sanchez

We’ve seen it for decades, particularly in the Bronx; having a quality catcher behind the dish can change the course of an entire season. If fans look back into the Yankees storied history and some of the more memorable Yankee teams in the past 100+ years, each team has had a leader as a catcher. Berra, Munson, Posada, the list goes on. That’s who this year’s team needs in the playoffs and so far, Gary Sanchez has made huge strides in making himself a solid defender to add to his powerful bat. Although he’s gotten bit by the infamous injury bug a couple of times this season, the all-star still has 24 home runs and has a .979 fielding percentage. If this can translate to the postseason, Sanchez could be deadly.

Luis Severino

Fans who have tuned in every night to watch the Yanks play know that what’s holding them back from being a totally unstoppable force and that’s their starting pitching. The rotation has not lived up to expectations this year and Luis Severino could change the script dramatically once he comes back from injury. As of now, we don’t know what Sevy’s role will be once he returns to the staff. There’s no sense in rushing him back if he’s not ready, but it would be good for him to eat up some innings prior to playoff time. This would give him time to lock-in as well as determine how much fatigue his arm can take throughout the course of a game. His first two postseason appearances have not been too kind to the Dominican native, who has posted a 6.26 ERA in six games. We have all seen what he can do in the regular season, and if he’s healthy and dominant like we’re all hoping for, another weapon can be added to the Yankee arsenal.