If one were to look at Masahiro Tanaka's record, it would show a starting pitcher enjoying a great start to the season. At 5-2 after last night's win over the Rangers on the road, Tanaka hasn't lost a start since April 17.
But all adept baseball fans know a pitcher's record is only the facade. And for Tanaka, that couldn't be any more true.
It was another night that saw a less-than-impressive Tanaka despite getting the victory chalked up in his win column. The 29-year-old let the long ball hurt him again as all four runs he allowed came on home runs. The first was a moonshot to Joey Gallo in the bottom of the second followed by Rougned Odor's first homer of the season, a three-run bomb to right-center that tied the game at four.
Luckily for Tanaka, the Yankees' potent offense came to the rescue again, led by rookie sensation Gleyber Torres who had his first multi-homer game of his career.
Still, his ERA jumped up to 4.95. And after allowing his 10th and 11th homers of this season following a 2017 campaign that saw 41 big flies, Tanaka has reversed tides this year. It has been more of the same struggles, and most of them have come from the inefficiency of his best pitch -- the splitter.
Manager Aaron Boone said he just didn't have it last night, and Tanaka couldn't agree more.
"He's right," Tanaka told NJ.com's Randy Miller through his interpreter. "I did not have my split. Very inconsistent. I just didn't have it."
But Boone saw more "encouraging" pitches from Tanaka last night as well.
"I saw some good cutters," he said. "I saw home four-seam fastballs that I actually thought were better. I saw some encouraging signs."
After Tanaka's dominant postseason starts of last season, many believed he had turned the page, showcasing the ace-like he has in the past. Instead, he has fallen back into his regular season woes of last season -- one that saw a 4.75 ERA over 30 starts.
"There's a lot of frustration there, mostly because of how good we're playing," Tanaka said.
The Yankees are playing lights out with a 13-3 May record, and three of those wins have come on Tanaka starts with another against the Nationals suspended until June.
It is no secret that Tanaka is supposed to be the team's No. 2 behind ace Luis Severino, but his numbers speak of a No. 4 or 5 at least. He isn't carrying his load, and he realizes that.
"Obviously it helps a lot when the offense is performing the way they are, but as a pitcher you've got to go out there and do your job," Tanaka said.
The first step to fixing any problem is admitting there's a problem in the first place. Tanaka has step one down. Now it's time to figure out how to complete step two.