Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
CC Sabathia only lasted three innings Friday night because of pain in his right knee that he ranked as a "10" on the ache scale. He wants to pitch again this season, even plans to, but he has no way of knowing if he can until his knee is drained on Saturday and he possibly gets a cortisone shot.
"It's frustrating, for sure," Sabathia said after the Yankees lost - again - to Oakland, this time by an 8-2 score at Yankee Stadium. "I feel like I can still get outs and help the team."
But Sabathia's status may help the Yankees avoid a thorny October question. Before his knee started bothering him again while batting during his previous start in Los Angeles, it was unclear where he fit into the Yankees postseason pitching plans. Sabathia, who has authored a Cooperstown-worthy career, has pitched in big games for the Yankees before and holds lofty status inside their clubhouse.
Would the Yankees have been tempted to start him this October? Could he help as a long man? Or are there other pitchers who could provide more? The Yanks may never have to ponder any of that. If Sabathia is unable to pitch again, even after treatment and rest, his balky knee will have taken care of the "What to do with CC in the playoffs" question.
That would lessen the juggling the Yankees might have to do with their postseason rotation, which figures to include some combination of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German and a game started by an opener. Luis Severino, who will throw in a rehab outing Sunday, also figures to be part of the mix, assuming he's healthy.
Sabathia is 5-8 this season with a 4.93 ERA, pitching around three stints on the Injured List. While he seemed dejected Friday night, he also seemed determined to return. He's in the final season of his career. Who could blame him for wanting to go out on his own terms, not forced out by knee pain?
"I know he's battled through a lot," said Luke Voit, who came off the Injured List himself Friday and went 2-for-4 in his first game since July 30. "It's his last year. He'll do what it takes."
Asked if he thought he would pitch against this season, Sabathia said, "I hope so. That's the plan. Hopefully, I can get enough rest to where it'll calm down and I'll be able to get back out there and throw 90 to 100 pitches."
Aaron Boone wouldn't speculate on whether Sabathia would be back. "I hope so," Boone said. "We'll see as far as treatment goes. We'll see how he responds and we'll go from there."
Even if Sabathia does get a cortisone shot and needs recovery, Boone said the pitcher could return. "Yeah, I think that's reasonable," Boone said.
Meanwhile, maybe the Yankees have something else to worry about, too - they can't beat Oakland, a Wild Card contender who could end up as their first-round opponent. The A's victory Friday night was their fourth in a row against the Yankees and they clinched the season series for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
Sure, 0-4 is a small sample size. But it's all we have right now.
Once the Yankees proved their remarkable depth could obliterate even an MLB record number of injuries - Gio Urshela was the 29th Yankee to go on the IL Friday, the most ever by one team, according to the Associated Press - it's been difficult to find much drama in their regular season.
Everything else seems like nothing more than a Yankee World Problem, as in: Oh, how can they possibly cope when the injured stars come back?
But maybe the A's have given them something to consider, even if it is only four games. And even if Boone waved it away afterward.
"We're a confident group, whoever we play," the manager said. "Obviously Oakland's beat us up a little bit and got us here. As far as how that affects us moving forward, who we'll see (in October), I don't worry about that at all."
Sabathia's knee? It's worrisome. Then again, maybe it'll save Boone and the rest of the Yankee hierarchy from a tricky roster question in October.