The Yankees announced tonight that they have placed right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list after an MRI revealed a “mild right forearm strain” and tendinitis in his right wrist. Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets that GM Brian Cashman told reporters that Tanaka will, conservatively, be sidelined for at least a month (Twitter link). For the time being, Tanaka will be shut down from throwing for the next seven to 10 days.
Tanaka tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that “nothing really big came up from the MRI,” and he feels he can come back strong. However, while there’s been nothing to suggest that he has further torn his ulnar collateral ligament, forearm strains are indeed often a precursor to Tommy John surgery.
Tanaka was sidelined from July 8 through Sept. 21 last season due to a small tear in the UCL of his right elbow. However, he was able to return from the injury without undergoing Tommy John. While his final outing of the season was one he’d like to forget — seven runs in 1 2/3 innings — Tanaka has looked generally excellent to begin the 2015 season, reeling off 22 1/3 innings of a 3.22 ERA with a 24-to-7 K/BB ratio.
The Yankees will once again hope that Tanaka can dodge the Tommy John bullet, but a significant injury to their ace would again overexpose an already thin rotation. Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia have both struggled to varying extents, while Ivan Nova is recovering from his own Tommy John, and Chris Capuano has yet to take the hill after opening the season on the DL.
As it stands, Sabathia, Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and Adam Warren will continue to round out the rotation, as Capuano inches closer to what the team hopes will be a May return. However, it’s not difficult to envision a long-term injury to Tanaka prompting the Yankees to seek a replacement from outside the organization to help steady their rotation in what looks to be a highly competitive American League East.