By Ian Palmer
The New York Yankees hopes of making the playoffs took a turn for the worse on July 18 when the American League club announced that pitcher CC Sabathia will be sidelined for the rest of the 2014 campaign. Earlier in the season the Yankees believed Sabathia would be back in the starting rotation sometime in August as they thought he just needed fluid drained from his knee. However, the Eastern Division team is now hoping the left-hander will be back for Spring Training next year after being scheduled for surgery on July 23.
Brian Cashman, the general manager of the Yankees, has confirmed reports that Sabathia will undergo season-ending knee surgery next week. Cashman said he doesn’t believe the pitcher’s right knee needs major surgery though and it’s more or less a cleanup rather than micro fracture surgery. Some experts are skeptical though and feel that Sabathia’s career could be all but over if his knee doesn’t respond properly to the operation and the rehabilitation that will follow it.
Sabathia started just eight games for the Yankees this season and didn’t show much improvement from last year when he went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA and the team missed the postseason. Sabathia came under a lot of criticism in 2013 and this season wasn’t much better for the 33-year-old native of Vallejo, California. In his eight starts he had a record of 3-4 with an earned-run average of 5.28. Opposing batters were hitting at a .301 pace against him.
These numbers seem quite out of whack when you consider Sabathia has a 208-119 career won-loss record along with an ERA of 3.83 with 37 complete games and 12 shutouts. He’s a five-time all-star who began his MLB pitching career back in 2001 with the Cleveland Indians. Sabathia then moved to the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2008 campaign before joining the Yankees in 2009. He helped the Yankees win the World Series in his first year in New York and was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series. Sabathia captured the AL Cy Young Award for 2007 and tied for the AL in wins with 19 in 2009. He then led the league the next season with 21 victories.
The Yankees are suddenly quite thin in pitching with several players being hit with injuries. These include Sabathia along with rookie phenomenon Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda, who are all out of action for the foreseeable future with long-term injuries. The only starter who hasn’t been sidelined so far in 2014 is Hiroki Kuroda. Even though Sabathia was struggling this year, his absence will still hurt the Yankees as he seemed to be slowly improving before being sidelined in May.
If there is any good news for the Yankees it’s the fact that the trade deadline hasn’t passed yet and there is the strong possibility that a deal could be made before the final stretch. In addition, as of July 19 they were in second place in the AL East with a 48-47 record and just four games behind the Baltimore Orioles. They were also tied with several other clubs at 2.5 games behind in the race for a wild card playoff spot.