For all you baseball fans who never had a reason to hate the Yankees — and there are a few of you — here's a new one.
Even die-hard Bomber fans might be a little miffed at the Yankees organization after reports surfaced the the team was maneuvering their starting rotation so that their break-out Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, might miss the All-Star game.
The Yankees have aligned their starting pitchers so that Tanaka — who was almost a sure bet to start the annual classic — would have to skip making the trip to Minneapolis, according to Joel Sherman of the N.Y. Post.
The slick move theoretically benefits the Yankees while likely hurting Major League Baseball — who would love to showcase the $155 million headliner and drive up TV ratings here and in Japan.
With an off-day Thursday, the Yankees could skip the struggling Vidal Nuno and have Masahiro Tanaka start the opener of a three-game series against the Red Sox in The Bronx.
Instead, citing the long season and seeing a chance to give extra rest to Tanaka and the rest of the rotation, the Yankees are going to stay in order and have Nuno start against the Red Sox, though he has the worst home ERA in the majors at 7.09 (minimum 35 innings) and has given up the most homers (13) at home — 11 to righty hitters. So, if you can get a future bet in on Mike Napoli hitting a homer Friday, go for it.
It means Tanaka will start Saturday, then July 3 at Minnesota, July 8 at Cleveland and July 13 at Baltimore. And you know what July 13 is? The last day of the first half. Only twice in the last 20 years — Randy Johnson in 2000 and Brad Penny in 2006 — has a pitcher started the final Sunday of the first half and then also Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
The chances are slim to none that the Yankees let Tanaka become the third starter.
Unlike last year, when the losing Mets used Matt Harvey’s innings cap and a mild blister on a finger as excuses not to let him start the Saturday before the break so he would be available to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field, the Yankees are in the mix at the top of the AL East.
There is a possibility Tanaka could start and be limited to 15 pitches or an inning. But the strongest likelihood now is the player who would draw the most interest if he started — here and, particularly, back home in Japan — probably will get named to the AL team and then replaced, not to even perform in the game.
“We can skip the fifth man to maximize short-term, but that is not in the individual’s best interest,” said GM Brian Cashman.
Sorry baseball fans. You're welcome Yankee haters.