Tanaka Pitches Three Shutout Innings in Rehab Assignment as RailRiders win in Extras

New York Yankee ace, Masahiro Tanaka pitched the first three innings of Thursday’s game with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders – the Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees. The RailRiders won on a walkoff single by Ben Gamel that brought in Rob Refsnyder in the 10th inning against the Durham Bulls.

Tanaka pitched three scoreless, with no walks, no earned runs, and two strikeouts. The pitch limit was set at 45 pitches, and Tanaka finished the third inning with a total of 41 pitches.

The first batter of the first inning, Taylor Motter, flew out to center. Then, Durham’s Jake Elmore took Tanaka deep for a double that looked like it was going to be a home run. Tanaka wasn’t rattled, and retired the next two batters. Over the next two frames, he gave up just one hit.

The good: Tanaka’s fastball and splitter both looked very good. Those are pitches, that (at least with Tanaka) go hand-in-hand, if one is working, chances are, so is the other. His fastball was consistently in the low 90s, and his splitter showed a lot of drop – as it does when he’s rolling.

Masahiro Tanaka speaking with media after rehab outing with AAA RailRiders.

Masahiro Tanaka speaking with media after rehab outing with AAA RailRiders.

The bad: His slider didn’t look great. It looked as if the first hit of the game, came on a slider. What makes Tanaka’s slider so good is its ability to fall away from batters, mainly righties. He wasn’t getting the tailing action that he usually gets on it. Granted, it was only a 41 pitch rehab stint, but it has definitely looked better.

Tanaka said after his outing “I feel pretty confident about the quality of pitches.”

He should, most of them looked crisp, some small issues are to be expected in a short rehab assignment.

“I was looking to pitch all of my pitches with force, and I think I was able to do that tonight … As far as going back into the game goes, I think I was able to go back in there pretty smooth.”

Tanaka will more than likely need one or two weeks before he’s back with the Yankees. He’ll need to increase his pitch count in each start, and go deeper into games before he’s fully ready to be back. Since Tanaka has a partially torn UCL in his elbow, this is something the Yankees need to be very delicate with. Adam Wainwright pitched for five years on a partially torn UCL and did very well. It’s a delicate situation, especially with so much money invested in the 26-year-old pitcher.

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