Lost in the Yankees rocking Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox’s bullpen for 14 runs Sunday night is that Masahiro Tanaka had another unimpressive start as he continues to keep pitching and avoid Tommy John elbow surgery.
Tanaka completed five innings, which is three more outs than he got versus the Blue Jays on Opening Day, but he allowed four runs, struck out four batters compared to three walks, and got just five swinging strikes on 97 pitches. And his velocity was again underwhelming, with an average of 91 miles per hour on his fastball.
Through two starts last season Tanaka had 18 strikeouts and 34 swinging strikes versus 1 walk.
Through two starts this season Tanaka has 10 strikeouts and 17 swinging strikes versus 5 walks.
The good news is that he’s healthy and has shown he can certainly still get big-league hitters out with his diminished raw stuff, but so he looks nothing like the guy who went 13-5 with 2.77 ERA and 141/25 K/BB ratio in 136 innings as a rookie.
Justin Verlander threw 45-pitch bullpen session Sunday and reported no problems with the triceps soreness that put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that Verlander is now on track to pitch a simulated game Wednesday, at which point the Tigers will determine if he’s ready to come off the disabled list for their next homestand.
Left-hander Kyle Lobstein is filling in for Verlander, who described Sunday’s throwing session as “really good” and “about as well as I could’ve expected.”
Jayson Werth is off the disabled list and back on the Nationals’ active roster after sitting out the first six games of the season recovering from January shoulder surgery.
Werth will take over as the starting left fielder, as the Nationals decided they’d rather have Bryce Harper is right field. Three different players filled in for Werth in the week he missed, led by Tyler Moore with three starts.
If healthy Werth provides a huge boost to the Nationals’ injury wrecked lineup. He’s hit .290 or higher in three straight seasons, grinds out long plate appearances and draws tons of walks, and still has 20-homer power in his mid-30s.
Last year he hit .292 with 16 homers, 37 doubles, and an .849 OPS in 147 games, ranking third among NL hitters with a .393 on-base percentage.
Veteran outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who opted out of a minor-league contract with the Rangers two weeks ago, has agreed to a deal with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.
He’ll get $1.16 million, according to the Japan Times. His deal with the Rangers would have been worth $1.75 million if he made the Opening Day roster, but Texas decided Schierholtz wasn’t worth a spot after he hit just .195 in 122 games last season.
Not so long ago Schierholtz was a solid part-time player and hit 21 homers for the Cubs as recently as 2013.
Because apparently the Rangers’ injury woes are carrying over for another season, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo exited today’s game with back spasms just moments after left-hander Derek Holland was forced out of his start with shoulder soreness.
Choo had a rough first season of a seven-year, $130 million contract, playing just 123 games due to ankle and elbow problems and posting a career-worst .714 OPS.
Jake Smolinski replaced Choo in right field.