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New York Yankees Playoff Hopes Rest on Masahiro Tanaka

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Masahiro Tanaka is the ace pitcher for the New York Yankees. He has been for the last four seasons. We all know this. Lately, he’s pitched like anything but one and it’s concerning to everyone around the team.

A month ago, Tanaka was 5-1 with a 4.36 ERA and was pitching up to his reputation as an ace. Since then, Tanaka is 0-4 and has watched his ERA skyrocket up to 6.34. The one loss to the Oakland A’s wasn’t his fault, as he pitched well enough to win. But in the other three games, Tanaka was terrible.

Masahiro Tanaka has an opt out in his deal after this season. Many have expected that he would use it and then get another payday like he got from the Yankees. Almost four years ago, the Yankees gave Tanaka a seven-year, $155 million deal to be the front line pitcher he was in Japan.

For the most part, he’s done well; a 44-21 record with a 3.46 ERA in 86 starts. He was the starter in the team’s Wild Card playoff loss to the Houston Astros and did well. But unfortunately for him and the Yankees, Dallas Keuchel was better.

Heading into June, the Yankees have the second best record in the American League and lead the A.L. East by two games. Despite some injuries to Greg Bird and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have thrived. And despite Tanaka’s poor performance over the last month, the Yankees pitching has been really good.

The starting rotation has been carried by Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia with Tanaka struggling. Tanaka can always turn things around, especially in his next lined up start on Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox.

But if the Yankees want to have any chance of making a postseason run in 2017, Tanaka can’t keep putting up dud performances. With Tanaka pitching this poorly, it has many thinking that the Yankees have to make a trade for a pitcher this summer.

Gerrit Cole’s name has already been talked about and other pitchers will soon be linked to the Yankees. If Masahiro Tanaka can pitch better, then the trade rumors for another pitcher slowly die down. A rotation of Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, and Severino, plus Jordan Montgomery, all pitching well can increase the Yankees chances in October.

But Tanaka is the headline guy and the ace of the staff. He’s the one Joe Girardi would hand the ball to for Game 1 in a series. He has to pitch a lot better for the Yankees in order to help their chances of getting back to the playoffs.

If not, the Yankees won’t go very far. They need Masahiro Tanaka to snap out of the slump. Sure, a trade might help. But what would really help is Tanaka pitching like the ace they’ve seen before. The Yankees playoff hopes are on the right arm of Masahiro Tanaka.

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