Sometimes, no matter how much you say something is a certain way, it just isn’t.
I can sit here and tell you about a dozen times throughout this post that I am 6,4, but it doesn’t change the fact I am 5’11.
Therefore it makes the practice of me saying I am 6’4 numerous times in this article, pointless and futile.
The same can be said in regards to the New York Yankees or anyone else who continues to state that Masahiro Tanaka is an “ace”.
The counter to that point may have been; “but he’s an ace in the Yankee rotation”. For a time, that could keep your argument afloat, but he’s not even the best pitched in the rotation today.
So we all need to stop referring to Tanaka, who came to the Yanks along with a ton of fanfare and hype, as anything other than what he is and stop trying to convince us that he is what he clearly isn’t and hasn’t been.
Tanaka is not an ace nor is he the best pitcher in that rotation.
End of story.
Fast forward to Sunday, when the headline was Derek Jeter’s number being retired by the Yankees.
Enter Masahiro Tanaka, who took the mound against the Houston Astros and immediately got torched.
Tanaka surrendered eight earned runs over just 1.2 innings pitched as Houston destroyed a pitcher who seems to slip more and more each season.
The 2017 version of Tanaka has been forgettable. His ERA ballooned to 5.08, his WHIP to 1.44 and a 5-2 record that doesn’t tell the true story.
Despite a game or 2 where Tanaka has been “on”, Tanaka has been horribly off. Each broadcast it seems the narrative is that Tanaka is in search of his groove, his stuff, and he might be a tad “off”.
But Tanaka being “slightly off” has led to being shelled. It has forced an electric Yankee offense to save their over-paid, flailing “ace” so that the headlines don’t reflect the reality of Tanaka on the mound.
The reality is that Tanaka is compromising the Yankees more than he is helping them.
And this season pitchers like Luis Severino and Michael Pineda have been better than Tanaka and much more deserving of the spot Tanaka takes in the rotation.
Tanaka is a far cry from the pitcher that burst on to the scene during the 2014 season and posted a 13-5 record with an impressive 2.77 ERA.
Tanaka is not even close to who he was in 2016 when he went 14-4 with a respectable 3.05 ERA.
Whatever “it” is for Tanaka, he hasn’t found it and when he does, he can’t seem to hold on to it.
Maybe there is an injury to blame. Maybe it’s a confidence thing.
Whatever it is, the Yankees better figure it out quick because Tanaka, when he is “on”, is capable of greatness, capable of living up to his hype and capable of being worth his contract.
Tanaka may be better taking a backseat to Pineda and Severino while he gets back on track and maybe that kick in the butt will get him sorted out.
But the Yankees, who have an important financial decision to make regarding Tanaka this season, need to figure out who Tanaka is and how the 2017 version of him fits into the Yankee rotation.
For now, let’s stop calling him an ace.