CC Sabathia‘s 2015 season is over upon his entrance into alcohol rehabilitation.
Before delving into the baseball matter that the New York Yankees are faced with regarding the departure of Sabathia, I want to express my thoughts and hope that Sabathia gets the help he needs, and above and foremost, can get back on track to a healthier lifestyle and peace of mind.
Lots of fans will ask the question, why now, as the Yankees embark on their American League wild card playoff matchup with the visiting Houston Astros Tuesday night. Who knows, and really unless one has stepped in the shoes Mr. Sabathia has, we must try to curb judgement and just hope CC comes out of it in a better place physically and mentally.
Though possibly unrelated, he was involved in an altercation in Toronto in August. There are obviously some demons gnawing at CC and he needs to do what he can to rectify them.
For most of the season, I had not spoken much on Sabathia’s place in the young and emerging potential that is the Yankees’ rotation. When thinking ahead to possible playoff scenarios and rotation possibilities, it didn’t appear he would even crack the rotation mix with his bloated ERA and poor performance on the field (6-10, 4.73 ERA). Then a funny thing happened upon returning from the disabled list in August; he became one of the more dependable Yankees starters.
One might throw around the term dependable loosely when thinking of this group. Nathan Eovaldi had emerged as a top of the rotation piece with his newfound splitter before going down with injury, and of course the sudden emergence and impact of Luis Severino in early August spurred optimism (5-3, 2.89 ERA).
Masahiro Tanaka is as dependable as anyone in the Yankees’ rotation (12-7, 3.51 ERA). He is only one start under five innings all season on opening day, and 19 starts of at least six innings.
However, Sabathia turned in his best month of the season during the month of September — 1-1, 2.25 ERA following 0-1, 3.80 ERA in August.
At the same time, the pitching faltered largely down the stretch (4.23 team ERA in September) as New York backed into home-field advantage following a sweep to the Baltimore Orioles.
While tomorrow’s wild card matchup vs. the Astros seems a mere coin flip, a series against the impending Kansas City Royals — winners of home-field advantage in the AL with a 95-67 record — whom the lucky wild card winner gets to face, speaks to even steeper odds for New York should they get there.
Sunday I posed the question, who would get the ball Thursday should the Yankees make it to the ALDS? Let’s take it a step further; who even makes up the Yankees’ rotation in a five-game series?
Tanaka would not be available for Game 1 after pitching Tuesday; Severino would likely have to get that call. As bad as Iván Nova has been, he’s likely on the roster in place of CC, who would have been lucky to make it as a mop-up man out of the pen. Perhaps Adam Warren over Nova.
Michael Pineda is likely in the mix but his own erratic tendencies and poor numbers — he was 3-1 with a 4.41 ERA in September, and allowed four earned runs in 3.2 innings Sunday in Baltimore — leave much to be desired.
There’s just no real good solution among this bunch.
It almost as if the sting of a quick one and done against the Astros would feel as a mere pinch as opposed to getting potentially bludgeoned by the Royals in a best-of-five. The Yankees finished 3-4 against the Astros during the regular season; they finished 1-2 against Kansas City getting outscored 19-6.
With the latest departure of icon Derek Jeter just a little over a year ago, these are not those same pesky, playoff magic Yankees. And that’s okay. This transition was inevitable and considering a playoff appearance following a two-year drought, the Yankees will be fine in the coming future. They have a young core, a dominant bullpen and money.
You can’t ever keep the Yankees down for long.
I know. The season isn’t over yet. However, Yankees’ fans need to take solace where they can.