The New York Yankees’ pitchers and catchers report in less than seven weeks, and the role of former ace, CC Sabathia is still uncertain. CC, who will turn 36 come July, still has two years left on his massive 8 year, $186 million contract and is still owed 50 million before it expires in 2017.
That’s a lot of money for a guy who is not even guaranteed a rotation spot.
Regardless of how much the former Cy Young winner is slated to make, Sabathia has had his fair share of troubles the past few years. Since the start of the 2013 season, CC has posted a disappointing 4.82 ERA, while being banged up with injuries for a great deal of 2014 and 2015.
As the lefty veteran gets older and older, some of his struggles can be connected to his drop in velocity.
Sabathia used to average around a mid-90’s fastball before the 2013 season and that has dropped down to around 90 mph. CC has also been a power pitcher for the majority of his career and now has to revert from that as he can no longer blow the fastball by many hitters.
Besides his on the field frustrations, CC has been dealing with personal problems as well.
This past August, Sabathia was video taped trying to get involved in a late-night brawl outside a Toronto night club. He acknowledged that he should have handled the situation better and luckily for him, did not actually get involved with the fight.
Later during the season, at the start of the playoffs, CC Sabathia checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility. The timing of the situation, where his team had just made the playoffs, really puts things into perspective as CC, being the fierce competitor that he is, would not purposely leave the team.
Though CC is not getting any younger, the big man has pitched so well, and for so long that even with a few bumps along the road these past few years, he has earned at least an opportunity to start and prove that he should remain in the rotation.
It also makes sense for the Yankees to give him first crack as the 5th starter.
There was a glimpse of the old CC late last season as the lefty put up an impressive 2.17 ERA during his last 5 starts and credit may be due to a better fitting knee brace. Sometimes, small adjustments like that can go a long way, and even though it was just a small sample size, he looked comfortable on the mound during that last month.
Not to mention it was CC, who finished 2015 with the most starts by a Yankee starter with 29. Sabathia also seems to be getting in shape and preparing his body for the season and add on the Yankees’ lack of options for that 5 spot, they may not have a better choice.
The Yankees’ first four in the rotation are pretty much set in Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi, and exciting prospect Luis Severino. Options for the final rotation spot have actually gotten worse with the progression of the offseason as New York gave up a solid pitcher in Adam Warren in the deal for Starlin Castro, and now the ball club is essentially left to decide between Ivan Nova and the aforementioned, CC Sabathia.
Nova has been very inconsistent for the Yanks’ and rumors are even swirling that the club may be trying to move him. Coming off a shaky and injury riddled 2015 season, the Yankees’ don’t know what they can expect from the righty, as it is evident through his brief 2015 campaign that he needs to prove himself in order to earn a spot in the rotation.
Though CC should get the nod for the final spot, who knows what the Yankees have in mind. They have recently acquired the hard throwing Aroldis Chapman (to the surprise of many), and there’s no telling who the team may go out and get before the season begins.
But as of now, with the lack of depth at the starting pitcher position, CC Sabathia should be the man to wrap up the rotation.