As the human body gets older it tends to deteriorate slowly over time. This is especially true of professional athletes. For baseball players, arms and knees are usually the first to go, and for southpaw CC Sabathia, it looks like baseball has taken its toll on him. The 35-year-old is entering his 16th season in baseball, and his nearly 3,000 innings thrown are catching up to him. He is no longer the flame-throwing lefty who intimidated hitters; now he is struggling to get guys out. Sabathia is no longer an asset to the New York Yankees, and he should be left out of the rotation if they are serious about winning a World Series title in 2016.
Let’s say the average number of pitches a hitter sees per at-bat is four. Sabathia has faced 12,465 hitters over the course of his career, so that would put his career pitch count just below 50,000. Add up all the pitches he has thrown in bullpens, warming up before a game, and just having a catch throughout his life, and I bet that number goes over 100,000. That’s a lot for anyone’s arm to handle, and it is no wonder that Sabathia has lost nearly 10 mph of velocity from his fastball. Sabathia used to clock out at around 98-100 mph back during his days with the Cleveland Indians, but he has dropped to around 88-89 during spring training for 2016.
According to the Yankees’ official depth chart, Sabathia is listed as the fifth starter, with Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell behind him. While having a seven-man rotation would be unrealistic, two would have to move to the bullpen in order for pitchers to get into a comfortable routine. While Sabathia is a proven veteran, Nova and Mitchell are younger and their potential is a lot higher than Sabathia’s. Nova’s career has been a lot of ups and downs, and he has not yet proven himself as reliable. Mitchell is a 22-year-old with three starts and 40 innings of major league baseball under his belt. He will most likely be coming out of the pen, with Nova and Sabathia duking it out for the fifth start.
Since his last good season in 2012, Sabathia’s velocity is down, and his ERA is up, recording 4.78, 5.28, and 4.73 marks over the last three years. His innings have gone down, too, along with his productivity. He isn’t the same pitcher he once was, and he won’t be for the remainder of his career. If Sabathia’s spring training is any indication of what his 2016 season is going to be like, then the Yankees are in for trouble. He has surrendered 10 runs, six of which were earned, in 7.1 innings across three starts. He picked up the loss on two of those starts. While it is spring training and players are not expected to be at full potential yet, this was a big opportunity for Sabathia to prove that he can still pitch well and win games for the Yankees.
CC Sabathia’s career is basically over. He is an older pitcher with his glory days behind him. Yankees fans cringe every time they hear he is going to be on the mound, hoping that he can at least get through five innings without things getting out of control. While he will give you a good outing every now and then, the fact that he is so inconsistent is what fans hate. If Sabathia is not going to be able to give the Yankees a shot at winning a game every time he pitches, then he should not be on the mound. Plain and simple.