Potential replacements for CC Sabathia

As the summer approaches, CC Sabathia has continued to decline in the waning years of his career. He has become a liability in an already average rotation and should be looked at to be replaced. With many better options, both in the minors and possible trade options at the upcoming deadline, Sabathia's Yankee career could be coming to an end.

Photo Credit: John Minchillo/AP

Sabathia had a rocky 2015 season that ended with him entering alcohol rehab, putting a hold on his career. He came back to have an okay, but improved upon 2016 season, in which he pitched a 3.91 ERA, which only added up to a 9-12 record. He was looking even better to start the 2017 season, looking like he was rejuvenated. The lefty had finally figured out how to be a finesse pitcher and the importance of locating pitches, rather than just trying to overpower every hitter. He has since fallen back off the map, having four consecutive awful starts.

Is it premature to say C.C. needs to be let go of after just four bad starts? Maybe, but we have seen this form of himself before. Yes, C.C. gave the Yankees great four years, all of which were Cy Young caliber seasons. In those four seasons, he pitched at least 200 innings and at least 230 innings in three of the four seasons. He finished top four in the Cy Young voting three times, along with being a three-time All Star in pinstripes. He was an integral part of bringing the Yankees their 27th championship ring, after an offseason in which he, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett were all signed to lucrative contracts. Now in his ninth season with the Yankees at age 36, it’s time the two sides separate. The Yankees have in-house options, youngsters in the minors that deserve a chance. They also have opportunities to trade for the likes of Gerrit Cole or Jose Quintana at the July 31st trade deadline, which we are about two months away from. Who would replace Sabathia’s spot in the rotation? What are the in-house options the Yankees have? Well if you’re gonna stick a declining veteran out there every fifth day, you might as well give a youngster some seasoning in the majors.

AP Photo

The best option, in my opinion, would be Chance Adams. Adams has dominated any competition that he’s faced the past few seasons. It started in 2015 where he made three separate stops, in Single-A Charleston, Low-A Staten Island, and High-A Tampa Bay. Amongst the three stops combined, he made 14 appearances, none of which were starts, and he allowed seven runs in 35.1 innings, adding up to a 1.78 ERA and also racking up 45 K’s in the process. He became a starter in 2016 and he even improved upon his ridiculous numbers, despite facing tougher and tougher competition. He remained in Tampa to start the season and then got promoted to Double-A Trenton where he pitched better. He was a combined 13-1 with an ERA at 2.33, which was 2.05 in Trenton, while having 144 strikeouts across 127.1 innings. This season hasn’t been anything different, as he started in Trenton and just recently got moved up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the last stop before the majors. He allowed just four runs across 35 innings, a 1.03 ERA, before the promotion. His only start in Triple-A thus far was what you’d expect from Adams, where he lasted five innings, allowing two hits and three walks on no runs and six strikeouts. Of course, nothing’s harder than pitching in the majors, but this guy has truly dominated every level and finally deserves to get his chance with the big league team.

Luis Cessa and Chad Green should also be considered. Both were solid in spot starts last season and acquired for lefty Justin Wilson. Green is the more attractive option and may make sense if the Yankees aren’t ready to call up Adams quite yet, such as needing more Triple-A seasoning. Green has been inconsistent since being traded from Detroit, as he dominated to the point of a 1.52 ERA across 94.2 innings in Triple-A last season. He was then promoted, as the Yankees needed some spot starts, where he was average. He showed flashes of being a solid starter, as he displayed quite high strikeout numbers in his first major league stint. He struggled to a 4.72 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes Barre this season, before recently being promoted, due to the Yankees need of a long reliever. Green pitched a much-needed, crucial 3.2 innings in the first game of two on Sunday against Houston. He allowed just one hit and kept the Yanks in the game, as the offense was able to reel off seven unanswered runs to win 11-6. He also made an appearance last week against Cincinnati in which he struck out two in an inning of work.

Green may not be that fifth starter for now though, as Aroldis Chapman’s injury creates a domino effect throughout the bullpen. Adam Warren is now forced to step into an uncomfortable seventh inning, which leaves his long relief, undefined role empty. Green will likely be that guy now until Chapman returns, which as reported, won't be for at least four more weeks. Meanwhile, Cessa is coming off a rather forgettable start in Triple-A, in which he allowed eight runs. Cessa has made one stint in the Bronx so far this year against Toronto, when he allowed two homers in 3.1 innings of work. The former middle infielder has been rather average at the Triple-A level this year and is unlikely to get that opportunity, after pitching to just a 4.35 ERA in 17 games last year for the Yanks, including nine starts.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

Bryan Mitchell, another candidate, has made a few stints as a reliever this year and could earn a possible opportunity as that fifth starter. Mitchell has been very inconsistent when having the chance in the big leagues. In 11 innings of work in the 2014 season, he allowed three runs before season’s end. He then made 20 appearances in 2015, two of which were starts, allowing a 6.37 ERA in 29.2 innings before the scary injury he had in August, in which he took a liner to the head. Mitchell bounced back in 2016 and had a 3.24 ERA, showing he could be a serviceable pitcher in the majors. He has since taken a step backward this season though, allowing eight runs in just 11.1 innings in the big leagues (6.35 ERA), along with a 5.06 ERA at Triple-A.

The last option, if needed, would be the aforementioned Warren. Not that I don’t think he would be good, as I think he would be a good end-of-the-rotation starter, but with how dominant he has been in the bullpen so far, there’s no reason in messing that up. He has now helped the Yanks bullpen become even scarier, with himself, Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman coming on at the end of games. Each has been ridiculous in their own right, as the four have combined to pitch 61 innings, allowing just 11 runs and raking up 84 strikeouts (!!!) in the process. As with Green though, Chapman being on the shelf surely eliminates his chance to be a starter for the moment. Taking Warren out would cause someone like Chasen Shreve or Jonathan Holder to be that seventh inning guy, which should be avoided at all costs.

In the end, a lot of this depends on what the Yankees plans are as far as the trade deadline is concerned. If they are planning to go after Cole or Quintana, it’s unlikely any of these guys become a starter in the rotation, barring an injury. They would likely keep Sabathia in the rotation until they acquire a starter and then likely decide between Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery on who should stay. The obvious answer in this scenario would be Montgomery, but the Yankees have showed the tendency to give veterans a long leash in past seasons. With his solid 2016 season, large contract, and veteran leadership, who knows what they would do in that situation, despite Montgomery being far younger, cheaper, and more effective. I say give Chance Adams a chance, as Green and Cessa were average when they got their chances and Mitchell and Warren have their own reasons as well, and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t pan out and they do end up getting Cole at the trade deadline. Either way, it’s time Yankee fans realize Sabathia is a liability at this point in his aging career.

Article by: Spencer Schultz
Follow me on Twitter @spenceschultz63
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