Saturday, March 19, 2016

Quick Pitch: Yankees' Sabathia not helping own cause

Spring Training Game 17: Orioles 11, Yankees 2 (Yanks' spring record: 6-9-2)

CC Sabathia
Photo: Keith Allison
The New York Yankees have six starters for five spots. Manager Joe Girardi has been adamant that the "best five" will be in the rotation with the sixth being relegated to the bullpen. CC Sabathia has had the worst spring of the six thus far, yet until I hear it from the horse's mouth, I won't believe the club will shift the 35-year-old veteran to the bullpen.

Forget the money (though it's an unavoidable hitch), forget the humility, think about what the club needs right now. The fifth starter on any team is a crapshoot. They'll have good games, but likely more bad over the course of season.

Sabathia's start Friday night was a microcosm of that type of performance. He was shelled early allowing four runs in the first inning including a home run. Then he settled down and didn't allow another earned run the rest of his stint (he allowed three more runs, but was undone by an error by third baseman Rob Refsnyder).

So, let's look at this way, is Sabathia better in a starter role every fifth day than Ivan Nova? Or is Sabathia going to provide more assistance to the bullpen?

Sabathia has ZERO innings in the bullpen. His pitching profile DOES NOT fit the bullpen, and you're foolish to think Sabathia will be the one getting mop up innings in games that get out of control at the onset of the season; not for the investment they have in him (I told you the money was in play). Right now, the Yankees have too many questions about middle relief with closer Aroldis Chapman out for the season's first month creating an extra hole and young pitchers performing erratically early on.

Nova on the other hand CAN help in the pen. He's not exactly experienced in the role, but at least he'll be able to utilize his repertoire of pitches to get important outs. I cannot see that in Sabathia.

What does the scenario of Sabathia in the rotation and Nova to the bullpen to start the season provide the Yankees? Time. One month to assess CC in true action (where the pitcher is not "working on stuff") in an effort to see if he can or cannot at least keep the club in the games he pitches.

That's all a fifth starter is really supposed to do and for the life of me I still believe Sabathia has it in him to become a viable back end of the rotation starter. Until I see Sabathia eating sunflower seeds with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen, I won't think otherwise.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.