The New York Yankees have little to no leverage when it comes to starting pitching, an area of the roster which has reached a rock bottom.
CC Sabathia’s comeback story is admirable, formidable, and ultimately one of perseverance, poise, and execution. The big left-hander’s contributions to the New York Yankees in the twilight of his career should not go unnoticed.
At 36 years of age, coming off extremely detrimental injuries to his right knee and a resilient battle with alcoholism, the big left-hander has logged 22 starts and is on pace to hurl 176.1 frames this year, an extraordinary sample size given minuscule expectations.
He should certainly be commended for his efforts while facing tremendous amounts of adversity.
In fact, his 2.20 ERA through 11 starts placed him on a fast track to serious American League recognition.
With that said, Yankee fans cannot be caught up in delusions brought about by a “nice story.” When push has come to shove, and it has, Sabathia has not been there. When the rotation has gone into a state of turmoil, which it is now, the former AL Cy Young has been non-existent. When faith has been placed in his hands to stop a skid, gain ground, or maintain respectability, the 2009 ALCS MVP has been atrocious.
Simply put, since reaching a peak on June 16 against the Minnesota Twins, CC has been downright awful, reverting to a state which nearly lost him a job in the heat of 2015.
“I think just making some bad pitches late in the game, if you look at it, it’s been solo homer early, and just getting beat late, and not good pitches … It’s up to me to try and make better pitches towards the end of the game and keep these guys in the park.” – Sabathia told Mathew Brownstein of The NY Times
In 11 starts since that date, half of his campaign, Sabathia is 2-6 with a dreadful 6.78 ERA while surrendering 13 homers and permitting a .291 BAA. Yet, the Yankees continually trust him as if he was the horse that so gracefully led them from 2009-2012.
However, no blame should be directed towards the organization as they have no choice.
You can constantly claim that they should buy him out, trade him, or force him to retire. Even if those were logical claims, who is next up to fill the shoes of Sabathia?
Despite his sudden lack of command, known lack of stamina, and featured implosions, taking him out of the starting rotation would be signing a death warrant on an already below average staff.
The Yankees have struggled mightily in formulating a typical five-man rotation with the departure of Ivan Nova and the horrific injury to Nathan Eovaldi, making it ill-advised to cut ties with a seasoned veteran.
Remaining under contract through 2017, Joe Girardi has no choice but to run him out there every five days, timidly trying to avoid the day that his knee suddenly gives out and hoping he does not groove an 88 mph fastball.
The Yankees are as stuck as stuck can be, and yesterday was a prime example. Following a painful 12-6 collapse the night prior, they performed a quick turnaround and put their fate in the hands of Sabathia.
Seven earned runs later and they were still searching for answers — currently too inadequate to be considered solutions.