CC Sabathia probably won’t be ready to pitch for the Yankees on Opening Day, but the big lefty should be available early in the 2019 season.
Yankees fans can use some good news about their starting rotation after learning that Luis Severino won’t pitch in the big leagues until May. Fortunately, the news regarding CC Sabathia is much more encouraging.
The veteran southpaw will probably begin the season on the Injured List, but there is a slight chance he’ll be declared fit by Opening Day. The fact that he throw a simulated game on Saturday with no issues is very encouraging. According to DJ LeMahieu, Sabathia looked the same as he did before his offseason surgeries.
No matter how good Sabathia looks moving forward, there’s no chance he’ll pitch during the first five games of the regular season. He still needs to serve his suspension stemming from hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre last year. It’s possible the Yankees will place Sabathia on the Opening Day roster just to let him get the suspension out of the way.
Sabathia only faced three batters today, but managed to throw 20 strikes in 32 pitches. He gave up one hit, one walk, but also managed two strikeouts during his brief outing. In truth, the results of his outing aren’t all that important. The most important aspect of the outing for the Yankees is that he looked good good and didn’t suffer any discomfort.
Expect the organization to continue to play it pretty conservatively with Sabathia. They don’t need him to be an ace this season, but they do need him to provide a consistent presence at the back end of the rotation. His ability to mentor the young guys in the clubhouse may be even more important than how deep he can go into games every fifth day.
Sabathia’s progression also makes it increasingly unlikely that GM Brian Cashman will choose to bring in another free agent to augment his rotation. The Yankees continue to show some interest in Gio Gonzalez, but they probably won’t make a move for him unless a starter suffers an injury that will cause them to miss significant time.
Yankees fans should keep a close eye on what the organization chooses to do next with Sabathia. If they put him right into a Spring Training appearance it means he’s almost certainly going to start the season on the active roster. If they go for another simulated game or two, it means he’ll start the year on the injured list.