For the Yankees it’s more than Sabathia being shut down
By Rich Mancuso
With CC Sabathia apparently shut down for the season does it mean the New York Yankees chances of playing baseball In October have diminished even more? That remains to be seen because there is still a half season to play and the Al east, as mediocre as it is, will come down to Toronto, Baltimore or the Yankees.
And, there are two AL wildcards up for grabs which makes it even more possible for the Yankees to be playing baseball in October. However, without Sabathia the Yankees are down a starter and the GM Brian Cashman is reportedly busy on the phones and will attempt to acquire some reinforcement prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
As much as Sabathia was ineffective, before going on the disabled list May 11 with swelling to his right knee, he still meant something to a Yankees team that is 24-26, including their win over the Twins Friday, since he went down. The 34-year old had a 5.28 ERA in eight starts and was considered the ace until a pitcher named Tanaka arrived in town.
So what does the absence of Sabathia, the remainder of this season mean for the Yankees? And from the way manager Joe Girardi was talking Friday, what does his absence mean if Sabathia has thrown his last pitch as a New York Yankee? If there is a determination next Monday that he needs microfracture surgery, it will be hard to recover.
Pitching for the Yankees again is another question. Sabtahia is owed two more seasons on a lucrative contract and the Yankees have the option of buying out the remainder of $5 million in 2017.
All of that will be determined at a later time. The health of Sabathia is of more concern, though the Yankees must move forward and keep up their fight so they do not miss out on a second straight season of not playing October baseball.
There was a concern over the past few years. The Sabathia fastball was not the same. He was missing and the home run ball was more consistent. There were times that Sabathia resembled the dominating pitcher that earned him a lucrative seven-year contract, but nowhere like the 74-29 pitcher the previous four years and finishing in the top five of AL Cy Young Award balloting three straight years.
Cashman and Girardi will hope for the best and hope Sabathia does not need surgery and will give the team more innings. That remains to be seen because the Sabathia they had before the knee got worse and was not effective. And of course, heeling will require rest and Sabathia may not be effective to the point of being much help for the Yankees down the stretch,
The patched up pitching staff of Chase Whitley, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Hiroki Kuroda can’t be faulted, and Masahiro Tanaka, as invincible as he is, can be beat. The bulk of the Yankees issues have come at the plate and lack of consistency to drive in runs, though the first two games in Minnesota the Yankees scored a combined 13-runs.
With their win Friday, the Yankees trail first place Toronto by three games and moved one game over .500 at 43-42 and got three doubles and a triple from Brian Roberts. The playoffs are reachable and there may be more reason to panic about the lack of production at the plate, more than the pitching and absence of Sabathia.
However everyone knows, you never have enough pitching. The Yankees know now, that without Sabathia now able to go out there every five days in the second half, that the task can be that more difficult. They need to find a solution in what has developed into a disappointing season of frustration.
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