As if the New York Yankees’ start to the season could not become more dampened, news broke on Friday that 35-year-old left-hander CC Sabathia — one of the lone bright spots thus far this season for New York — would be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.
The news comes two days after Sabathia turned in a grand outing against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, one where the burly left-hander held the O’s scoreless for seven innings.
Sabathia’s spot in the rotation will likely be filled by Ivan Nova, who has starting experience under his belt. Nova has made six appearances out of the bullpen this season for the Yankees, including an extended outing on April 8, one where he went four innings against the Houston Astros and whiffed five batters.
Replacing Sabathia on the 25-man roster will be left-handed relief pitcher Phil Coke. The Yankees signed Coke to a minor-league deal in late April after he was released by the Atlanta Braves, who signed him in March. Coke was drafted by the Yankees in 2002 and debuted in 2008. In 2009, Coke appeared in 72 games out of the ‘pen as a left-handed specialist and boasted a 1.07 WHIP in 60 innings.
Outside of Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees’ rotation has been subpar to start the year. Young starter Luis Severino has a 6.31 earned run average in 25.2 innings and already has an 0-4 record. Michael Pineda has a 1.59 WHIP through his first five starts, and Nathan Eovaldi’s opponents are hitting.280 against him.
After a 2015 campaign that was not ideal and spending time in an alcohol rehabilitation facility, Sabathia’s respectable start to the 2016 season is a very welcomed sight for the organization. Sabathia logged 200 or more innings each season from 2007 to 2013, but he did not seem to be able to get healthy in 2014, when he battled with right knee inflammation and a lingering left hamstring strain from the previous season.
In five starts this season that have added up to 28.1 innings total, Sabathia has surrendered twelve earned runs, which can partially be traced back to the thirteen walks he has issued. Worth noting is that Sabathia has given up only one home run this season. He and Tanaka are the only pieces of New York’s starting rotation to have not allowed four or more long balls.