CC Sabathia isn’t the most talented star on the shelf for the Yankees, but his return to the clubhouse will give his teammates a massive emotional lift.
The Yankees are missing more top-flight talent due to injury than any team in MLB at the moment. The return of fifth starter CC Sabathia may not drastically change the way the team plays on the field, but it will have a massive impact on manager Aaron Boone’s clubhouse.
According to Boone, the veteran southpaw should be ready to rejoin the rotation during the Yankees series against the White Sox on April 12th-14th. His return to the active roster should allow Jonathan Loaisiga to return to the minors. Sabathia definitely has the edge in terms of experience, but Loaisiga’s stuff might be superior at the moment.
For a team that’s as dependent on analytics as the Yankees are it might be easy to underestimate how Sabathia’s return will help the team. He’s only projected to be the team’s fifth starter. On most teams, getting a slight upgrade at that spot wouldn’t do much to move the needle. The Yankees aren’t most teams and Sabathia isn’t just any fifth starter.
Despite his waning physical skills, Sabathia is a clear leader in the Yankees clubhouse. Look no further than his decision to throw at then Rays’ catcher Jesus Sucre late last season as evidence. Sabathia did it for the sole purpose of sticking up for his teammates. He knew a suspension and fine were almost certainly coming. The decision to throw at Sucre even prevented the pitcher from qualifying for a hefty financial bonus that the team ultimately decided to award him anyway.
Most fans around the league will look at Sabathia’s numbers after he returns and assume he doesn’t mean much to the Yankees. The truth is that his effect on his team transcends analytics. It may be impossible to quantify, but the emotional lift Sabathia gives his team will be obvious to anyone who watches the Yankees closely.