The Yankees are no closer to figuring out the mystery that is Masahiro Tanaka, but they know this much:
The slumping righthander and a potent Orioles lineup that beat him up twice previously this season? That’s not a good combination.
So they announced Friday that instead of facing Baltimore on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka will be pushed back a day and will start Monday night against a much weaker Angels club in Anaheim.
Entering Friday night, the Orioles had a .253/.307/.425 slash line and 83 homers to the Angels’ .239/.315/.382 and 68 homers. With Mike Trout on the disabled list, the Angels are even weaker offensively.
That also will allow Tanaka — who is 5-6 with a 6.55 ERA, including 0-5 with a 10.72 ERA in his last five starts — to take a second turn against a weak club, the A’s, on June 16. Oakland entered Friday with 87 home runs but had only a .235/.302/.428 slash line and 540 strikeouts in 59 games.
“There’s all kinds of factors,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s struggling, Baltimore’s seen him a lot, an extra day’s not going to hurt him. It’s just all those things.”
Mental ones, too.
“And we’ve talked about his confidence,” Girardi said. “When you don’t do something well for a while, it’s human nature [to lose some].”
Tanaka, who called being pushed back “no big deal,” remains adamant that his issues with command are mechanical and thus are fixable.
“I feel I understand what I need to do,” Tanaka said through his translator, declining to specify what that is. “I have to deal with it and have a positive approach.”
As for who will start Sunday, it is not likely to be top pitching prospect Chance Adams, currently at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but not on the 40-man roster. Though Girardi didn’t rule out the possibility of using Adams, the start is likely to go to Chad Green if he isn’t needed before then. Bryan Mitchell, scheduled to start for Scranton on Saturday, also is an option.
Chapman could return next week
Aroldis Chapman (rotator cuff inflammation) flew to Tampa on Friday night and will pitch in a simulated game Saturday. Girardi said the closer will pitch for Double-A Trenton on Monday or Tuesday and could rejoin the club by the start of the Oakland series Thursday night.
“I feel ready, I feel good. My arm feels good,” Chapman said through his translator. “Thank God, no pain at all.”