It isn’t often good to have the over when someone throws a no-hitter but that’s what happened to us over the weekend. Edinson Volquez tossed the first no-hitter of 2017 in the most unlikely of spots and we never had a chance to win our first play of June.
While Volquez did that over the weekend, the Red Sox and Yankees were busy splitting four-game series’ with division foes. Boston won the last two games in Baltimore after losing the two leading up to then and New York beat the Blue Jays, then lost, then won and then lost the finale when Josh Donaldson went deep in the eighth inning. It was just the sixth loss for New York’s bullpen all season.
With no ground gained over the weekend, Boston remains two games back in the division (three in the loss column) with a chance to get them back, and more, starting tonight.
Masahiro Tanaka has been in a funk. He won five straight starts, beginning in the middle of April but since then, he’s lost four in a row. Three of the four starts were ugly with a gem hidden in between.
I can’t explain Tanaka’s struggles but his BABIP and HR/FB rate must have something to do with them. Tanaka’s BABIP has been unusually volatile ever since he came to the US – .299 in 2014, .242 in 2015 and .271 last year – but this year is something else. Opponents are hitting .339 on balls in play against Tanaka this season, which is just cruel. His HR/FB Rate, 14% in 2015, to 16.9% in 2016 and 12% last season, is over 21% this season.
Some of what goes into these numbers is out of a pitcher’s control but it isn’t easy to say how much. What is easy to say is that whatever is out of Tanaka’s control hasn’t been on his side because he isn’t this bad. Fans, the Yankees and handicappers, among others, can’t be too concerned with that going forward
What is concerning is that he’s walking nearly a full batter more, per nine innings, this year than any other season in his career. It could be a result of poor command, perhaps a mechanical flaw, or Tanaka is avoiding the strike zone because more guys are barreling him up. My sense is that it could be a trust issue.
To an outsider like me, what he ought to do is attack the zone and pitch to contact, like he did when he faced Chris Sale at Fenway Park earlier this season and got 27 outs with 97 pitches, but it has to be more complicated than that.
My faith in Tanaka isn’t exactly unconditional but it hasn’t wavered yet. I’m looking forward to a run of below average BABIPs, fly balls that get caught up in the wind and affordable Vegas prices.
Free Pick: New York (-115)
al east • Boston Red Sox • New York Yankees