Monday, April 6, 2015

Tanaka inconsistent as Yankees lose opener

The New York Yankees lost their home opener Monday afternoon to the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1. Masahiro Tanaka lasted just four innings, allowing five runs (four earned), suffering from inconsistent location.

Tanaka worked two spotless innings to begin the game, in which his offspeed pitches seemed mostly crisp and featured a fastball hovering in the low 90s. But, in the third inning Tanaka ran into control problems and could not work out of them.

Tanaka allowed five hits, including a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion, walked two and struck out six. He threw 50 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

Tanaka made some news earlier this spring when he suggested he was going to utilize a two-seam fastball more than a four-seam this season, which means less velocity, but also more potential movement. Therefore, many of the postgame questions surrounded Tanaka’s fastball, and manager Joe Girardi pushed that notion aside claiming he was hurt most by location problems.

“It comes down to location, movement and deception,” said Girardi during the YES Network postgame news conference. Tanaka didn't have any of that working in the third inning.

Tanaka also stressed he was missing spots and hopes to get back on track during his next outing. One reporter asked Tanaka about the malfunctioning radar gun and the right-hander literally laughed off the question stating he has no control over that.

What he does have control over is how he fixes his issues for his next start. It seemed to me that Tanaka was simply inconsistent and that happens early on in the season, even to the best of pitchers. I didn’t notice anything worrisome about his mechanics and he was not far off his average fastball velocity of last season, when he threw more four-seamers.

Velocity is discussed often, but good pitchers, like Tanaka will tell you that if they are not locating that pitch, or worse none of their pitches like he showed in the third inning, the results will not be good.

I’d expect him to bounce back in his next start Sunday night against the Boston Red Sox.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.