Oh man, this is bad news. Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees’ stellar Japanese hurler was placed on the disabled list yesterday with “elbow inflammation,” but after an MRI the news got much, much worse on Thursday.
Tanaka has reportedly been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. That injury almost always leads to Tommy John surgery, but the Yankees are claiming the tear is small and their prized pitcher could return after six weeks following a platelet-rich plasma injection.
Tanaka has seen three doctors so far and none have recommended surgery at this point, but general manager Brian Cashman hasn’t ruled out surgery yet.
The Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract this offseason and the 25-year-old has paid off so far. Tanaka is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. In 129.1 innings he has stuck out 135 hitters while walking just 19. He has made 18 starts and has three complete games and one shutout.
Tanaka and the Yankees obviously have some decisions to make but for now he’ll likely continue to get treatment on his pitching elbow and see how it heals. We wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up missing the rest of the season though.
We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.