After two months of see-sawing medical reports, the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka has finally been cleared to return to the majors, as manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Tuesday that the right-hander will start for New York on Sunday, in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Considering the wariness surrounding his condition, the Yankees will exercise caution, and Tanaka will likely be limited to 70-75 pitches.
Tanaka burst onto the scene in his first season stateside after agreeing to a massive seven-year, $155 million deal in January. In his first 18 starts, Tanaka posted a 2.51 ERA, 153 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, and 3.7 WAR, earning an All-Star nod and emerging as one of the brightest young pitchers in the game. Unfortunately, Tanaka partially tore his UCL on July 8th, and has spent the past two months rehabilitating the injury in an attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Though he will be returning to the majors, Tanaka isn't out of the woods just yet, as a flareup would almost certainly send him under the knife. Nonetheless, Tanaka should have a couple of starts to prove that he is healthy enough to avoid surgery and return fully operational for 2015.