Should the Yankees re-sign Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton in 2021?

New York Yankees, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees have some big decisions coming up this offseason. Two ace quality pitchers are set to be free agents in 2021. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. Who should they re-sign?

Masahiro Tanaka has been with the Yankees since 2014 and played the ace role for a couple of years. He has been on the decline ever since his 13-5, 2.77 ERA season in 2014 but is still a great pitcher to have in the rotation.

Tanaka has always been a reliable pitcher in big-time games and has phenomenal numbers in the postseason. He is 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 8 starts. He has been nothing short of incredible in October and is the pitcher the Yankees rely on the most in the fall. With ace type pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, he could be a really nice third arm in the regular-season rotation. But, he has trouble keeping the ball in the park. Last season, he gave up 28 home runs in 31 starts. That is definitely his number one flaw. 

Tanaka has built great chemistry with catcher Gary Sanchez and coaches seem very comfortable when he’s in the game. He can pitch late into games, throw a nasty slider, and a downward moving splitter. He’s a pitcher that can climb to the top of most teams’ rotation and a really good arm to have in October.

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Should the Yankees retain James Paxton over Tanaka?

James Paxton was brought to the Bronx in a trade with the Seattle Mariners but hasn’t lost a step. He has transitioned over to the big apple nicely and has shown flashes of ace quality pitching. His main criticism last year was he couldn’t get out of the first inning without giving up runs. That showed in the playoffs as well. However, I don’t think this will be a reoccurring issue. Adjustments have to be made with approach, but with the acquisition of new pitching coach Matt Blake, I think it will be cleaned up nicely. 

Paxton has shown that he can get hitters out on the big stage and was someone that the Yankees needed to rely on down the stretch. It also helps that Paxton is lefty. Teams really like to have solid lefty pitchers in the rotation, and Paxton fills that spot. He is someone that I view as not in his prime yet and still has plenty of time to improve. His second half of the season was where he really shined and started to look like himself. Paxton can easily be pitching during All-Star Weekend at some point in the future. 

Now, I think that we might see both of these players back in pinstripes next year, but with players like LeMahieu, Judge, and Torres expecting big money soon, that might not be the case. The Yankees are trying to win now, and having a player that can get stuff done when the game is on the line is really crucial.

Verdict: Masahiro Tanaka


New York Yankees: Why the Starting Rotation is Struggling

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees currently rank 15th overall in MLB pitching statistics ( The rotation is ranked 19th overall, where they are credited to a 4.77 ERA. None of these numbers is something to write home about, which is why general manager Brian Cashman is trying so desperately to add before the July 31st trade deadline.

It is clear that the main problem is the starters are not going the distance. Even though the Yankee bullpen is so dominant, it is evident that because of their overuse their performance is suffering. Besides German’s most recent start, each starting pitcher has not gone farther than four innings in their last outing. Each starter has also allowed more than 5 runs in their last outing, again except for German’s exceptional last start.

Tanaka and Paxton really struggling

Masahiro Tanaka has had a funky year. His 2019 stat line of a 4.79 ERA and a 7-6 record is not his usual self. Part of the reason for his struggles might be that Tanaka’s main pitch, the splitter, has clearly not been the same. According to FanGraphs, Tanaka has used his splitter 5% less than he did last year, dropping from 29.9% to 24.1%. He has mentioned that maybe part of the reason his splitter has not been as effective is to his suspicions of the MLB baseball feeling different this season. Nevertheless, Tanaka was supposed to fill Severino’s role during his absence and has failed to do so.

James Paxton has had a rough July so far. He is currently on a three-game losing streak, in which he let up seven runs to the Boston Red Sox in his last start. Paxton has also not been able to go the distance, where he hasn’t passed 4 innings in his last two starts. Another part of the reason why he has struggled so much this month is that the big fly total has been up. He’s let up eight home runs this month in over 25.1 innings pitched.

Game 7 Recap: Orioles at Yankees

A chilly night in the Bronx featured a pitching duel between New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka and Andrew Cashner. Both offenses were kept in check until the middle of the game. The Yankees’ bullpen struggled again tonight.

W- Cashner 1-1 (4.09 ERA)

L- Tanaka 1-1 (2.92 ERA)

SV- Brach (1)

Offensive Recap:

Coming off of two offensive outbursts against the Tampa Bay Rays the Yankees bats were kept silent with only one hit until the the bottom of the sixth when Aaron Judge hit a solo homer to give the Yankees the lead.


With the Yankees trailing in the bottom of the seventh Didi Gregorious smacked a double to right field. Didi then scored on a Neil Walker single.

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Pitching Recap

Tanaka was dominate tonight and had Orioles hitters looking silly at the plate. Tanaka was handed a one run lead heading into the top of the seventh. He allowed a single to Jonathan Schoop and thena two run homer to the hottest Oriole hitter Adam Jones.

Chad Green entered the game after Tanaka gave up a single to Tim Beckham. Green struggled as he allowed three hits and two runs.

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Adam Warren entered the game in the eighth and gave up only one hit and looked good in the one inning he pitched. Dellin Betances pitched the top of the ninth for the Yankees and struck out every batter he faced. He only allowed one walk and pitched much better than his last outing.

Players of the Game

Adams Jones was tonight’s player of the game as he hit the go ahead homer for the Orioles off of Tanaka.

Jones: 2-4, 2 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI

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Tomorrows Game

Orioles at Yankees

Yankee Stadium 7:05 ET

Gausman 0-1 (13.50 ERA) vs Sabathia 0-0 (1.80 ERA)

New York Yankees Player Preview: Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees struck gold when Masahiro Tanaka decided to join the Yankees prior to the 2014 season. Tanaka is a great teammate and guy to have in a rotation. Tanaka does have a problem with homers, but always seems to rebound whenever it looks like he is losing it. Hopefully, he will improve this season and will be important to the Yankees in their chase for 28.

Tanaka’s numbers last season:

4.74 ERA, 13 W, 12 L, 194 K, 41 BB


Tanaka is from Hyogo, Japan and specifically the city Itami. Tanaka was a star since he was a child in Japan. He went on to play six seasons in the Nippon Professional Baseball for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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In his final season (2013), he lead the Golden Eagles to their first ever Japan series win. Following his tremendous season, Tanaka was posted by the Golden Eagles for 20 million dollars in the offseason. There was interest from many teams, but Tanaka ultimately decided to sign a seven year $155 million dollar contract with Yankees.

Yankees Hiro:

Tanaka had a fantastic rookie season for the bombers as he was selected to the All-Star Game in 2014 after going 12-4 in the first half in 18 starts. Tanaka did not get to pitch in the game because he had complained of arm discomfort after a start on July 8th. After tests were done, it was revealed that Tanaka had a small tear in his UCL. Instead of having Tommy John Surgery Tanaka decided to rest his arm for six weeks.

It was speculated that Tanaka would opt for the surgery, but he has avoided the surgery thus far and continues to pitch with the small tear.

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Tanaka became the Yankees ace during the 2015 season as he helped the Bombers back to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Tanaka pitched the wild card game for the Yankees, a game in which the Yankees lost 3-0.

Tanaka had a terrific season in 2016 and it was the first time in his career that he was not placed on the DL. He finished third in CY Young voting that year. The one problem that Tanaka has not been able to get rid of is the home run ball. In 2015 Tanaka allowed 25 homers, in 2016 he allowed 22 homers, and last season 35.

Tanaka started his third opening day last season but was overtaken by Luis Severino as the Yankees ace. Tanaka had a decent year, but was not dominant. The best word to describe his season was a roller coaster. The best game of the season for Tanaka was his 14 strikeout performance against the Rays on July 28.

In the playoffs, Tanaka did not start the Wild Card game for the Yankees as he did in 2015. Tanaka pitched in three games during the Yankees postseason run last year. He pitched game three against the Indians in the ALDS and shut them down as he allowed Greg Bird to hit that historic homerun off of Andrew Miller.

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Tanaka went on to pitch two games against the Astros in the ALCS and he was dominant in both starts. Tanaka clearly had confidence in the playoffs and showed how special a pitcher he can be.

Tanaka had the option of opting out of his contract with the Yankees this off-season, but he decided to opt-in to his deal. Tanaka will start the second game of the season in Toronto on March 30th.

If Tanaka can pitch like he did in the playoffs and keep his homers down, he can put together a fantastic year for the Yankees. Rest is the key for Tanaka as he does better with six days of rest instead of the usual five days