If it was encouraging in the final weekend before the playoffs to see Tanaka emerge from a recent rut — he had allowed at least seven runs in two of his previous three starts — it was hard to say it was a portent of what might be coming if the Yankees advance to a division series.
Tanaka has pitched a handful of sterling games this season — a three-hit, complete-game shutout at Fenway Park in April and a 14-strikeout gem against Tampa Bay in July that began with five and two-thirds perfect innings — but they have not led to a string of strong performances.
“It’s pretty obvious that there were a lot of ups and downs this season,” said Tanaka, who can opt out of his contract at the end of this season. “I really want to take this year as sort of a learning process. Hopefully, in the future, when I look back, I can look back at this year as a year with a lot of struggles but I could learn from.”
If the postseason represents a fresh start for the Yankees, few could use it more than Betances, the four-time All-Star setup man, who has clearly lost Girardi’s confidence. Since losing his eighth-inning role, Betances had strung together four and a third hitless…