The Yankees announced this morning that they have placed RHP Masahiro Tanaka on the Paternity list and have recalled LHP Nestor Cortes, Jr. from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Tanaka was slated to start Sunday’s game in Cleveland. Since paternity leave will last for three days, according to George King, that Sunday start will not happen. They haven’t said for sure, yet, but I imagine the plan will be to do a bullpen day Sunday, with Cortes serving as the primary innings eater in that game, or maybe Cortes will even straight-up start the game. For now, I’m speculating that Chad Green would open for him, then Cortes will try to get through four innings or so, then they’ll turn it over to the usual bullpen crew.
The 24-year-old Cortes has pitched 11.0 innings across four appearances with the big club this season. Some of those were good and some of those were not. His two most recent appearances for the Yanks were good, though. He threw four scoreless innings in Kansas City on May 26 and another scoreless frame on May 29 against San Diego. He’s trended in the right direction, though we’re obviously in small sample size territory and pitching is so volatile.
Hopefully the time away will be good for Tanaka so that he can (a) spend time with his family, first and foremost, and (b) reset himself and come back a more effective pitcher than what we have seen. All year, he has had trouble getting as much movement on his pitches as we’re used to seeing from him, most notably there has been a lack of vertical drop on his splitter. Of late, though, he’s looked very good through the first several innings of his starts, but has not been able to avoid fatigue later in the starts or the one big inning. We saw it again last Tuesday in Toronto. Tanaka cruised through the first four innings, then it all came apart after the botched call by Angel Hernandez.
I don’t know if the time away will actually fix anything, but I supposed a couple of extra days off is better for Tanaka, regardless, to prevent overuse along with keeping in mind that he has been better, generally, with extra rest throughout in his career.