Jeff Passan — who is writing a book about Tommy John surgery, so it is of special interest to him — has a story today about Masahiro Tanaka and the uncertainties surrounding his elbow. The same elbow which cut his season short last year and which some, Passan included, it seems, believes should have been operated on then instead of, inevitably they believe, later.
For his part Tanaka blames poor mechanics for the strained on his UCL last year and believes he will be fine with mechanical adjustments:
“I don’t think they were solid,” Tanaka told Yahoo Sports through interpreter Shingo Horie recently. “With the right mechanics, the right form, the right balance, you’re able to throw a solid pitch. It’s not about how much power you can put on the throw. It’s more about the mechanics. That’s what I believe.
I have no idea whether Tanaka and the Yankees were right or wrong to decide agains Tommy John surgery. I’ll leave that up to the orthopedic surgeons with whom he and the team consulted and trust that they got good advice and are acting on that good advice.
But the mechanics stuff interests me. Specifically, it will be worth watching as the season begins whether Tanaka has truly altered his mechanics in a way visible to us in the stands. And whether that impacts his effectiveness or creates other problems, as pitchers who change their mechanics up often experience.