Earlier this afternoon, Aaron Boone confirmed rumors that Masahiro Tanaka would start on Opening Day for the Yankees. This marks the fourth occasion that the right-hander will pitch the first game of the season, having done so from 2015-2017.
When Luis Severino went down with rotator cuff tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, fans figured that Tanaka would take his place. Reporters began to ask him about the prospect of taking the ball on day one.
“Obviously if you are given the opportunity to pitch on that day you want to do your best,’’ Tanaka told George King after yesterday’s game. He followed that up with a dose of his trademark self-critical analysis. “If you look back I don’t think I have necessarily been good on Opening Day.’’
Since arriving in New York ahead of the 2014 season, Tanaka has been a stabilizing force in the Yankees rotation. The 30-year-old has gone 64-34 with a 3.59 ERA (3.80 FIP) over 824.1 innings. He has a propensity to give up a few home runs, as evidenced by his career 1.33 HR/9 mark, but that appears his only shortcoming. Tanaka has been rock solid for the Bombers.
Boone also indicated that left-handers James Paxton and J.A. Happ would follow Tanaka in the rotation. Considering CC Sabathia will start the season on the injured list, that leaves the fourth and fifth starter positions open. Barring a last-minute trade or free agent signing, those spots will get filled by two of the likes of Luis Cessa, Domingo German, and Jonathan Loaisiga.
Are you happy to see Tanaka pitch on Opening Day? Would you have preferred someone else? Let us know in the comments section!