While the Yankees could be dead out of the playoff race, the team remains optimistic about the return of their ace Masahiro Tanaka. After throwing a 35-pitch bullpen yesterday that included his splitter and slider, Tanaka is now scheduled to face live hitters as early as Saturday. According to ESPN New York, Tanaka will throw what looks to be a live batting practice, but manager Joe Girardi did not get into the specifics. The likely scenario would be Tanaka facing a few of his teammates probably at the stadium, but again nothing is set in stone regarding any of the parameters.
Girardi also said if he continues to progress without any issue there’s a chance that he could end up pitching in games without even needing another MRI, which to me just sounds foolish. “With this type of injury, it’s either going to work or it’s not going to work,” Girardi said. “It’s not something like you’re waiting for the inflammation to go away.” But the Yankees want to see Tanaka in action this year so they know what kind of shape he will be in for next season, and to make sure Tommy John surgery isn’t needed. If you look at the calendar and start counting down the days, there is a chance he might get a few starts in at the end of September. How many? That remains to be seen.