Friday has not been a good one for baseball fans who like healthy pitchers. First, Shohei Ohtani landed on the disabled list with a blister and a strained UCL. Then Stephen Strasburg left his start early due to an apparent injury. Now, Masahiro Tanaka has gone down following a trip around the base paths.
With one out in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ game against the Mets at Citi Field, Tanaka reached on an error, advanced to second base on a single, moved along to third on a walk and then tagged up and scored the tying run on an Aaron Judge sacrifice fly to medium right field, in what seemed to be an impressive feat of base-running for a pitcher with almost no experience batting or running in major-league games.
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) June 9, 2018
The experience must have taken a heavy toll on Tanaka, because he did not take the mound to start the bottom of the sixth inning, replaced after allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out eight and throwing 75 pitches. The Yankees soon announced Tanaka was dealing with stiffness in both hamstrings and would be reevaluated Saturday.
To Yankees fans, Tanaka’s exit evoked Chien Ming Wang’s 2008 foot injury suffered while rounding the bases. And to all fans of the designated hitter, the situation was further evidence that only bad things come from pitchers batting.
However you feel about the DH, it does always seem somewhat unsafe when AL pitchers who haven’t run 90 feet all season are suddenly asked to scoot around the bases in a tense situation. Sure, you can blame Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin for sending Tanaka home on Judge’s fly ball, but only in interleague play (or the World Series) do you have a runner on third base so entirely unqualified to make a basic baseball play.
Luckily, Tanaka’s injury does not seem to be that serious. But it sure seems as though mandating a DH in all interleague play would solve some problems.
UPDATE: Masahiro Tanaka was diagnosed with mild strains on both hamstrings and will be placed on the disabled list. Yankees manager Joe Girardi says Tanaka will “miss weeks,” but they’re hopeful he can return before the All-Star break, which is approximately five weeks away.
Aaron Boone said that Masahiro Tanaka will miss “weeks,” but that it is “very possible” he returns before the All-Star break.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 9, 2018