Ivan Nova’s return from Tommy John elbow surgery means the Yankees now have six starters and five rotation spots. In the short term they’re going to a six-man rotation, but once they resume a five-man alignment someone has to go.
And according to manager Joe Girardi it won’t be CC Sabathia despite the former Cy Young winner’s ugly 3-7 record and 5.65 ERA in 15 starts, which includes a league-high 55 earned runs and a league-high 17 home runs allowed in 88 innings.
Sabathia failed to make it out of the fifth inning Tuesday against the light-hitting Phillies, after which Girardi was asked about the 35-year-old left-hander’s job security and said:
He is a starter for us. That’s what he is and that’s what we are paying him to do and that is what he is going to do. … He’ll keep working at it. We’ll keep working at it. He’ll still compete. We need him to do his job.
Girardi’s “that’s what we are paying him to do” quote is especially key, because Sabathia is making $25 million this season with another $25 million due next year and a $25 million vesting option or $5 million buyout for 2017.
Sabathia’s track record and contract have kept him from losing a starting job already, because dating back to 2013 he’s started 55 games with a 5.07 ERA and 55 homers allowed. Instead when the Yankees bump someone from the rotation it’ll likely be Adam Warren or Nathan Eovaldi.
Chase Utley being on pace to surpass the 500 plate appearances necessary to trigger next season’s $15 million is suddenly much less of an issue, as the Phillies placed the 36-year-old second baseman on the disabled list with right ankle inflammation.
Utley has hit .179 in 65 games this season and he originally injured the ankle during offseason workouts in January, but manager Ryne Sandberg was hesitant to blame the former All-Star’s struggles on the injury:
Not really. Because in my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards.
Utley admitted to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that the ankle has been an issue all season, although he added that “it’s hard to tell” whether it’s to blame for his career-worst performance.
It’s another sad turn in the story of a six-time All-Star who ranks as one of the greatest players in Phillies history and one of the best second basemen of this era, particularly after Utley stayed healthy enough to play 155 games last year and hit .270 with a .746 OPS to make the All-Star team at age 35.
He deserves a better final chapter.
Travis d’Arnaud played 11 games before going on the disabled list in mid-April, returned on June 10 after missing two months with a fractured finger, and is now heading back to the disabled list with a left elbow injury.
In between the injuries the 26-year-old Mets catcher hit .296 with four homers and an .873 OPS in 19 games to build on a very strong second half last season, which is why it’s such a shame he’s back on the shelf.
Kevin Plawecki figures to serve as the Mets’ primary catcher, with Triple-A call-up Johnny Monell taking over as his backup.