Masahiro Tanaka - is this the beginning of the end for Yankees starter? - Metro US

Masahiro Tanaka – is this the beginning of the end for Yankees starter?

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Questions surrounded the depth of the New York Yankees starting rotation for most of the offseason and especially over the past few weeks leading up to Sunday’s Opening Day.

There was little question that their ace was Masahiro Tanaka, who was tasked with getting the season started on the right foot against the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was the perfect choice considering this was a team he had dominated in the past.

In eight career starts against the American League East-rival Rays, Tanaka posted a 6-0 record with a 2.82 ERA.

Well, things didn’t necessarily go to plan on Sunday as he lasted just 2.2 innings and was rocked for seven runs on eight hits.

The seven runs earned were a career worst for Tanaka, who had allowed six runs on three separate occasions over his first three years in the majors.

It was the second-shortest outing of his career and the shortest Opening Day outing by a Yankees pitcher since Ron Guidry allowed four runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings against the Seattle Mariners in 1983.

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Guidry did turn things around that season and went 21-9 with a league-leading 21 complete games.

Tanaka was tagged for three runs in the first after Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly scored Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison drove in a pair with a single.

It was a rare rocky start for him considering he allowed just four runs combined during the first innings of his last 31 starts.

Then came the long ball as Longoria and Morrison took Tanaka out of Tropicana Field before Mallex Smith’s RBI single gave the Rays a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning and ended the Yankees ace’s day.

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Tanaka has struggled on Opening Day before. In 2015 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he gave up four earned runs on five hits in four innings. He came back and went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his following six starts.

So Yankees fans can hold out hope that he can recreate a comeback similar to that or else their pitching staff could be in a lot more trouble than anyone anticipated.

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