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Bullpen Day Thrives, Yanks top Rays 4-1

Entering the last week of the regular season the Yankees opened a four-game set Monday night in the always dreaded trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees came into tonight sitting one and a half games (two in the loss column) above the Oakland A’s for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game. Aaron Boone decided to go with a “bullpen day” tonight instead of giving the ball to a typical starter.

Amid stellar start, CC Sabathia announces this year could be his last

While the Baby Bombers have stolen the show early on for the Yankees, it’s the team’s elder statesman who has arguably been one of their biggest keys. At 37-years-old, CC Sabathia is off to one of the best starts in his 18-year career. The big left-hander has pitched to a 1.39 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 32.1 innings. Additionally, Sabathia has allowed just one run in four starts since returning from the disabled list in mid-April, and he has stabilized a rotation that has struggled to find consistency from Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray. 

Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

With all of this being considered, retirement is the last thing you would expect to be on Sabathia’s mind. However, the New York Post is reporting that if the Yankees bring home a 28th World Series title this October, Sabathia is likely to ride off into the sunset. 

“I want one more parade and pretty sure that will be it,” Sabathia told the New York Post. 

Sabathia, who is one of just three current Yankees remaining from the last World Series winning team in 2009, said he has long been craving a second championship ring. 

“That’s the only thing you think of after you win the first one,” Sabathia said. “You think about 
the next one.” 

With the Yankees off to a 24-10 start, their best since 2003, this may be his best shot yet. 

It was a long journey for the once dominant Sabathia to get back to this point. After being the clear-cut ace of the Yankees staff from 2009-2012, Sabathia struggled with diminished velocity, injuries and personal problems from 2013-2015. At that time, it was hard to envision we would ever see the CC we are seeing now return. It was even harder to imagine he would sign a one-year extension to remain a Yankee beyond 2017. 

2009-2012: 74-29, 3.22 ERA, at least 200 innings each year, three-time all-star 
2013-2015: 23-27, 4.82 ERA, 200 innings only once, zero all-star appearances 

Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Then, in 2016, things finally clicked for Sabathia. He learned how to pitch with his decreased velocity, refined his cutter and changeup, and began focusing more on location and pitch selection. Since the start of 2016, Sabathia is 25-17 with a 3.60 ERA. Those numbers are obviously much closer to the Sabathia who endeared himself to Yankees fans when he first arrived in the Bronx. 

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

Whether the Yankees win a second World Series during the CC Sabathia-era may very well be determined by the effectiveness with which their second-longest tenured player pitches throughout the season. The Yankees will have a much better shot at winning it all if Sabathia can build on his torrid start and continue to anchor the middle of the Yanks rotation behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. 

Article by: Jake Graziano

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