Should Masahiro Tanaka Have Undergone Tommy John Surgery?

There are three words that are any pitcher’s worst nightmare: Tommy John Surgery. When the New York Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka in January, 2014, to a 7 year, 155 million dollar contract, with a buyout after the 4th season and a full no-trade clause, they were certainly hoping to NEVER hear those words about Mr. Tanaka. Instead, they were hoping to have a constant Cy Young Award contender. Through his first 18 starts, it looked like they had hit the jackpot. He started the season off by going 6-0, finally ending his winning streak in a game vs the Chicago Cubs on May 20, which the Yankees lost 6-1. He was loving New York, and New York loved him.

He was voted into the All-Star Game, and also became the first Yankees Rookie to win 12 games before the All-Star Break. Then, the unbelievable happened. On July 8, after a game vs the Cleveland Indians, Tanaka reported discomfort in his right arm. The next day, he was placed on the DL with with right elbow inflammation. Just days later, it was reported by the team that he had a partially torn UCL, better known as the “Tommy John” muscle. This was a shot to the heart for all Yankees fans. They had watched this young pitcher destroy every team that he went up against, and now he was on the fast-track to having Tommy John Surgery, which would have kept him out of the rest of the season, and most of the next season.

Then, the team made one of the most important decisions of the past couple years. Instead of taking the safe route and having Tanaka undergo Tommy John, they decided to have him try and let it heal naturally, with the help of a PRP shot from the team’s head physician. So, now I’ll get to the main question: Should Masahiro Tanaka Have Gotten Tommy John Surgery? In my opinion, yes. 100%  yes! Why would you risk this? Why risk his entire future when you could play it safe and have him have surgery and sit out the rest of the season and some of the next season? He came back for his final 2 starts of the season, and he just wasn’t himself. He only lasted 1.2 innings in his last start, giving up 7 runs to the Boston Red Sox.

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