Tanaka on the shelf for at least one month

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Well, this was inevitable.

The Yankees placed starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list Tuesday night with a sore right wrist/forearm. He’ll be shut down entirely for about 10 days, at which point the club will take another look. The hope is that this period of rest will allow Tanaka to return to the big leagues by the end of May.

Or it might be the precursor to Tommy John surgery for the Yankees’ high-priced ace.

In July of 2014, a small tear in Tanaka’s ulnar collateral ligament was discovered. He sat out most of July, all of August and returned to make two starts late in September. Rather than go for Tommy John surgery and get back to 100 percent that way, Tanaka has tried to pitch through the elbow injury.

Until now.

Who knows what will happen. Perhaps this time off will allow Tanaka to survive the rest of the season. Maybe he decides to go for TJ surgery after all.

Either way, his absence certainly puts a dent in the Yankees’ playoff chances for 2015. Tanaka didn’t look great in his first two starts, giving up five runs over four innings on opening day and and four runs over five in his second start, a game the Yankees won, 14-4.

But he’d been sharp in his last two outings, looking dominant in an April 18 start at Tampa Bay and taking a no-decision in a game the Yankees would ultimately win 2-1 in Detroit on April 23.

Without Tanaka, the Yankees turn to an over-the-hill CC Sabathia, the young and enigmatic duo of Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi and the Scranton/bullpen mix-and-match crew of Chase Whitley, Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers and Chris Capuano. For a team that’s struggling to score runs and play consistent defense, losing an ace hurts deeply.

If there is any good news here, it’s that the Yankees’ training staff is acting cautiously. Hopefully they make the right decision when the time comes, giving Tanaka an opportunity to be healthy and effective whether it’s next month or after the 2016 All-Star game.

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