The Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the 15 day disabled list yesterday for the second time this season with left elbow inflammation. Sabathia first reported stiffness after his start in Seattle on August 3rd. After receiving an MRI, which revealed no structural damage, the southpaw made his next start five days later in Detroit in which he gave up three earned runs. In that game, manager Joe Girardi lifted Sabathia after 94 pitches. It was a small detail at the time but it now defines the Yankees’ cautious approach to the health of their ace. However, Girardi doesn’t seem to be worrying too much as he rates the organization’s concerns as “pretty low-level”. Furthermore, according to the skipper, Sabathia wanted to make his start this Monday against the Texas Rangers but was overruled by the medical staff and the front office.
Texas has been a stellar team all year posting a 67-46 to this point and they are a half game in front of New York in the American League. With the potent lineup they possess it is understandable that Sabathia wanted to make his start as this series could prove to be crucial for the Yankees and their unstable division lead. However, I agree with their decision to shut down their ace for at least the 15 day period. Barring a monumental collapse, the Yankees will be in the playoffs, probably as a division winner. For them to compete, Sabathia will need to be at his best and lead the pitching staff, unhindered by a nagging injury. Not having him pitch, therefore, makes sense in the long run as New York cannot afford a catastrophic injury to Sabathia’s elbow.
Fortunately, the Yanks have the assets to get by for however long Sabathia is out (within reason). It was announced today that David Phelps, who has been impressive this year, will start in CC’s place this Monday. In addition, the Yankees announced their acquisition of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe (who was DFA’d by Cleveland on August 1st), who can make a start for the team if necessary or work in a long relief role. From the way the Yankees are framing the discussion about the injury, it seems as though they will only miss their number one starter for only a few weeks, something they should be able to get through if the rest of their pitching staff steps up to the task.