It's been a rough year for pitchers, and the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka is the latest casualty. He's been diagnosed with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and surgery is a possibility.
As of now, the Yankees are hoping Tanaka can avoid Tommy John surgery, and rehab the injury instead. Yanks' GM Brian Cashman said a successful rehab program could have Tanaka back on the mound in "hopefully no more than six weeks."
Tanaka's injury has a different context than the recent rash of ligament tears in baseball. Before he joined the Yankees, he was known for his insane workload in Japan. As a 17-year-old in high school, Tanaka threw 742 pitches over six starts in a national tournament. As a 20-year-old professional, he once threw 137 and 142 pitches in back-to-back starts. In his most recent season, he followed up a 160-pitch start with 15 pitches of relief during the championship series.
Far and away the Yankees' best pitcher this season, Tanaka had taken the loss in three of his last four starts. Through the end of tonight's games, New York is four games back in a very mediocre AL East.
Tanaka is on the first year of a seven-year, $155 million contract.