Posted on August 31, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia may have only a month left in his big league career, and he’s going to spend at least part of that month on the Injured List. The Yankees placed Sabathia on the 10-day IL Saturday after leaving Friday’s start with knee pain. Sabathia plans to retire at the end of the season but is hoping to return to the Yankees before the end of the regular season.
The 39-year-old Sabathia has struggled with chronic pain in his right knee for several years. This issue has grown worse in recent years, as this will be his fourth IL stint of the season and the third because of knee-related issues. Friday’s start was his third since returning from a three-week stay on the IL because of knee pain. However, he was only able to make it through 48 pitches, describing his knee afterward as a “10” on the pain scale.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” Sabathia said after Friday’s game. “I feel like I can still get outs and help the team. The hardest part is not being able to be out there, and when I am out there, I’m not performing. It’s frustrating.”
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In the past, Sabathia has been able to come back and pitch after a short time on the IL. However, he missed most of August and only lasted three starts before the pain became too much to manage. That doesn’t bode well for Sabathia with a month left in the regular season. The plan is for Sabathia to have his knee drained on Saturday and then continue other treatments with the hope that he’ll be healthy enough to pitch in time to help the Yankees during the postseason.
“That’s the plan,” Sabathia said. “Hopefully I can just get enough rest where it will calm down and I’m able to get back out there and throw 90-100 pitches.”
When he’s been healthy, Sabathia has gone 5-8 with a 4.93 ERA over 20 starts this season. Those are not great numbers by any stretch. But his postseason experience and leadership are qualities the Yankees will want in October, so they will surely notice his absence when the playoffs roll around.
“It’s tough to see, especially your leader of the team,” Aaron Judge said of Sabathia’s injury. “It’s his last year, and he wants to finish this thing out strong, but it’s tough. We’re going to do whatever we can to keep supporting him. Hopefully he can get healthy here and help us down the road. We’ll see.”
The Yankees will likely replace Sabathia in the rotation with Jonathan Loaisiga. He missed a large chunk of the season due to shoulder problems before returning earlier this month. The club is also hoping to get Luis Severino back before the end of the season. Severino hasn’t pitched all season but will make a minor league rehab start on Sunday. That leaves New York’s rotation with some uncertainty as the calendar gets ready to flip to September.
With a comfortable lead atop the AL East, everything involving the Yankees boils down to October. The Yankees are obviously hopeful both Severino and Sabathia will be healthy enough to return before the start of the postseason. But the status of both remains up in the air at the moment. For Sabathia, specifically, it’d be a terrible shame if Friday was his last time out a major league mound.