Less than two weeks ago, the Yankees appeared to have a surplus of starting pitching. Now it looks as if they might not have enough.
The Yankees placed righthander Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday with right shoulder inflammation, leaving manager Joe Girardi searching for someone to make his scheduled start on Monday night against the Mets. Tanaka joins CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation) on the DL.
Tanaka won’t throw for five days and then plans to resume his throwing program. Girardi said he doesn’t expect him to miss much more than the 10 days.
Tanaka left Wednesday night’s start in Toronto with none out and two men on in the fifth inning after allowing a career-high five walks. He said through his translator that he began to feel fatigue “a little bit towards the end where the number of pitches was gradually increasing,” that “maybe that had an effect [on me] in the game” and that he was concerned that it would “affect my performance” Monday night.
“He came to us Thursday and said that he felt his arm was tired from here on down — his arms, his fingers, his hand,” Girardi said, pointing to his shoulder. “We waited a couple days to see if he felt that it kind of came back and he just didn’t . . . Our doctor described that he’s got some fatigue and he’s probably got some inflammation. Nothing structural — structurally he comes out fine. From a strength standpoint, he comes out fine.
“We decided he needs a break.”
After the Yankees traded for Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the starting rotation was so crowded that Jordan Montgomery was sent to the minors on July 6. In the past week, however, the Yankees have been forced to put Sabathia and Tanaka on the DL.
Montgomery is scheduled to pitch Sunday night’s series finale against the Red Sox and Chris Sale, taking Sabathia’s turn in the rotation, despite being struck by a ball on the right side of his head while signing autographs before Saturday’s game.
Girardi said a replacement for Tanaka on Monday night will depend on which pitchers he needs to use in completing the series with Boston. He mentioned righties Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa as top candidates.
This probably ends any notion of the Yankees pushing back Luis Severino a day so he can face the Red Sox next weekend in Boston. Asked about it, Girardi said “you can run out of starters.” Severino was charged with 10 runs in 4 1⁄3 innings in Saturday’s 10-5 loss to Boston at the Stadium.
Tanaka is in the fourth year of a seven-year $155-million contract that permits him to opt out after this season. He is having by far his worst and most inconsistent season with an 8-10 record and a 4.92 ERA in 23 starts. He has eight starts in which he allowed one earned run or fewer and seven in which he allowed at least five.
This is the third time Tanaka has had to go on the disabled list. In his All-Star rookie season of 2014, he spent nearly 11 weeks on it after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his elbow, but he did come back. In 2015, he missed six weeks with a forearm strain.
“It’s obviously frustrating to miss time, especially this time and where we’re at making the playoff push,” Tanaka said. “I know this is going to be a relatively short time off and I believe this time off will get me back stronger and back on track.”