New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the club and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka are already working on the ace’s “mechanical” problems.
The 28-year-old Japanese is 5-2 in eight starts but has a sky-high 5.80 ERA and has given up at least three runs in six of the games he started. He got blasted by the Houston Astros in his last start, conceding eight runs and getting replaced in just 1.2 innings.
But Girardi said his pitching coach Larry Rothschild is already working with Tanaka to help him get back to his top horse status.
“Larry talked to him today about some mechanical things,” said Girardi. “Hopefully they get it ironed out.”
“I think his front shoulder was flying [open] a bit [against the Astros]. Sometimes they’re mechanical and we have to iron them out. He hasn’t had a good splitter and slider for most of the year.”
Rothschild said his Tanaka hasn’t found his usual technique, but is confident that the ace can regain it soon.
“[Tanaka’s] front leg is coming open and his arm drags, and then you just don’t catch up and that changes the angle of every pitch and the quickness to the plate of the pitches,” said Rothschild. “You keep your eye on it and try to correct it, but Tanaka’s been pretty good at bouncing back and correcting himself and making the adjustments that we try to make on the side.”
Tanaka is pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm since 2014, but he logged career-highs in starts (31), in innings pitched (199.2), strikeouts (165), and wins (14) en route to a seventh-place finish in the Cy Young voting.
The Japanese’s next scheduled start is against Tampa Bay, the same team who roughed him up with seven runs in 2.2 innings in Opening Day.
His ERA from the first game has decreased from 23.62 to 4.36 before his sluggish outing against the Astros, and he also led the Yankees to a 3-0 win in Boston behind his three-hit, complete game.