CC Sabathia was once the ace of the New York Yankees. At 36 years old, he’s starting to look like that guy again.
Heading into the final year of his contract with the Yankees, Sabathia’s role was unclear. He was penciled in as the fourth starter and a back-end pitcher.
A month ago, CC Sabathia looked like he was coming towards the end of his career. Sabathia had a 5.45 ERA and didn’t look long for the rotation.
Five starts later and five wins later, CC Sabathia looks like the guy they gave a 7-year, $161 million deal to. Sabathia is now 7-2 with a 3.66 ERA and looks more like an ace than Masahiro Tanaka does.
When the Yankees first got Sabathia, he was a flame-thrower that struck out over 200 guys. He was the typical power pitcher, but age caught up to him. Injuries did too, and for a few years, fans were down on Sabathia.
With help from a knee brace and transforming his game, Sabathia has turned himself around. Before, CC Sabathia was pitching to a high-4 to a low-5 ERA. Those numbers weren’t going to cut it with the Yankees. And it’s why his rotation spot was called into question.
Now, Sabathia is back to winning again by changing speeds, locating and actually pitching. Sabathia has taken the advice of another former Yankee in Andy Pettitte, who dealt with age. Pettitte himself had to deal with diminished velocity later in his career. Yet, Pettitte used it to his advantage and continued to win every year.
Mike Mussina did the same as well for the Yankees. In fact, Mussina’s rejuvenation led to winning 20 games in 2008 for the Yankees.
Now Sabathia looks like he’s following that trend. With the way he’s pitching, he could continue for another couple of seasons. Whether it’s with the Yankees or elsewhere, CC Sabathia could continue to be an effective starter in Major League Baseball.
With Tanaka struggling, Sabathia has essentially been the Yankees best pitcher over the last month. With Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino all pitching well, it eases the struggles of Tanaka a bit. It’ll help the Yankees if Tanaka pitches better.
But with Sabathia pitching like an ace, it only increases the Yankees chance of success in 2017. His rejuvenation and resurgence have been tremendous. If the Yankees do make the playoffs, it’s because of Sabathia. And if the Yankees make a deep run in October, Sabathia will be a major factor in it.
The Yankees being mentioned as a playoff contender has been because of Sabathia pitching well. The New York Yankees will need it to continue.