By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer
A lot of the talk surrounding Masahiro Tanaka this spring has been about what he'll game start for the Yankees to open the season. While many believe that it'll be the third game, in Houston, that might not be the case.
Though indirectly, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild may have hinted that Tanaka is currently being set up to start the fourth or fifth game of the season.
If that were the case, Tanaka would make his first Major League start against AL East rivals the Toronto Blue Jays.
The reason being that if Tanaka were to start in the fourth or fifth game, it would allow him to get some extra rest early in the season because of how the Yankees' schedule is set up to begin the year.
“I think we weigh the schedule a little bit, where he can get extra rest in the season to try to keep him strong through the year,” Rothschild said. “We've got the 13 games in a row to start. That’s going to impact when we decide to pitch him.”
In Japan, Tanaka would only pitch once a week, compared to the every five days he'll pitch in America. Giving him some early rest would help in stretching him out so pitching every five days won't be a big issue as the season goes on.
So right now, it would be CC Sabathia as the Opening Day starter, with Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova pitching the other two games in Houston. Tanaka starts in Toronto and pitches five days later in the Bronx. He'll then be able to make his third start of the season on an extra day worth of rest.