CC Sabathia has enjoyed an illustrious career with the Yankees, but there may not be room for him on the team’s postseason roster in 2019.
The Yankees have a lot of things to figure out between now and October, but there’s no bigger issue than what pitchers Aaron Boone will trust in the postseason. Despite CC Sabathia’s career-long contributions in pinstripes, there’s no guarantee he’ll make the team’s roster when October arrives.
Leaving Sabathia off the postseason roster would be a painful choice for the Yankees front office. Brian Cashman and company are keenly aware of how much Sabathia contributes to the team as an emotional leader. On the other hand, MLB is a results-based business. Sabathia’s performance on the mound this year doesn’t indicate he is a pitcher who can be trusted in the playoffs.
There’s still time for Sabathia to save his season, but right now his ugly ERA of 4.78 in 17 starts on the season doesn’t paint a pretty picture. The way he’s gotten to those mediocre numbers should give the Yankees brass even more concern. Sabathia no longer possesses the plus stuff that allowed him to be an ace in years past. Instead, he now relies on smoke and mirrors to labor through starts in this his age-39 season.
That type of soft stuff tends to get pitchers battered in the postseason. Unless Sabathia ends the season on a massive high, he almost certainly won’t be a member of the team’s postseason rotation. Given that fact, it’s fair to wonder whether or not he deserves a place in the playoff bullpen.
If Luis Severino and Dellin Betances make their way back onto the active roster before October, that bullpen is going to get very crowded. Boone will want to take as many pitching options as he can into the postseason, but Sabathia isn’t a guy who will get the ball in a high leverage situation. His only real value in the postseason would be to try to provide his team long relief in the event that a starting pitcher gets knocked out of the game early.
Otherwise, Boone is going to stick to the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle when the game is on the line. Chad Green also looks like a solid bet to make the postseason bullpen. If you add Betances and Severino to that group it already gives the Yankees seven bullpen arms ahead of Sabathia.
In all fairness, the Yankees would probably still carry Sabathia onto the postseason roster just for his intangibles. His inclusion isn’t a lock though. A few bad starts like he suffered through against Cleveland on Sunday could push him on the outside looking in when October baseball arrives.