NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Masahiro Tanaka may be the best pitcher in baseball. He’s certainly worthy of starting the All-Star Game for the American League on July 15.
But will he?
It seems the Yankees have set things up so that the most he’ll be able to do that night at Target Field in Minneapolis is doff his cap to the crowd.
The Yankees have an off day on Thursday and could choose to skip struggling left-hander Vidal Nuno on Friday and instead start Tanaka in the opener of their weekend series with the visiting Red Sox. However, as Sweeny Murti told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday morning, it appears the Yankees will roll the dice with Nuno.
In that scenario, Tanaka, who is 11-2 with 2.11 ERA in 15 starts since signing a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees during the offseason, will start Saturday, and then if he goes every five days will eventually pitch on July 13 at Baltimore. That start against the Orioles also marks the last day of the season’s first half. Over the last two decades, just Randy Johnson in 2000 and Brad Penny in 2006 have started the first-half finale and the All-Star Game two days later, the NY Post reported.
There is a chance Tanaka could start the midsummer classic and be limited to 15 pitches or an inning, the Post reported, but the odds are the impressive right-hander will get named to the AL squad and then be replaced.
The move would certainly disappoint baseball fans in both the United States and Japan, who hang on Tanaka’s every move, but in a season where the Yankees have dealt with three significant injuries in their rotation, it’s understandable that they may not be willing to take a risk of any kind with Tanaka.
The Yankees began play Tuesday in third place in the AL East, 2 1/2 games behind Toronto.
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