Masahiro Tanaka will not pitch for Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he told reporters in Japan on Monday. Tanaka had previously pitched in each of the three previous WBCs, helping lead Japan to two championships, but all three of those appearances occurred before Tanaka came stateside. His choice to forego participating in the WBC likely has something to do with protecting his fragile UCL, which he partially tore two years ago.
Tanaka has been a staple in the Yankees rotation ever since coming over from Japan in 2014. Last season he had a 14-4 record and a 3.07 ERA last, finishing seventh in the AL CY Young voting. Notably, his 3.07 ERA in 2016 was the second lowest ERA for a Yankee starter in a season since the turn of the century.
Japan will certainly miss Tanaka’s presence come March, but management has to be delighted that he elected to focus on the 2017 season rather than pitching in the WBC. If he pitches like he did last year, he probably won’t regret this decision.
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