Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, General Manager Brian Cashman announced to reporters during Thursday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
Tanaka was seen by three different doctors today in Seattle after flying there from New York to be checked by team physician, Dr. Chris Ahmad. The recommended route for Tanaka is to try rehabbing the injury first, which would keep him out of the big leagues for at least six weeks — nobody suggested that he should undergo Tommy John surgery just yet, which is the only good news for now.
Tanaka will have a platelet rich plasma injection next week in New York, and then attempt to begin a throwing program. Should things not work out, Tommy John will be the next step and we won’t see Tanaka again until sometime late next season.
Tanaka last pitched on Tuesday for the Yankees, giving up five runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 inning. He was having a great rookie season up to this point, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 135/19 K/BB ratio in 129 1/3 innings over 18 starts.
This is really that worst possible thing that could happen to the Yankees this season. Losing CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova for the year and Michael Pineda for several months is one thing, but losing Tanaka for at least six weeks while trying compete for a playoff spot is the worst.
Cashman also said to reporters that he would continue to talk with teams and be aggressive on the trade market to look for some more starting pitching help, and that this news won’t, in anyway, turn the Yankees into sellers as the trade deadline approaches.
Tanaka, aside from Derek Jeter and maybe Dellin Betances, has been the most watchable player on the team this season, the only one that you would really try to schedule your day around just to watch. Without Tanaka, not only do their playoff chances drop, but I’m sure their ratings will, too.