CC Sabathia is looking more and more like a reliever–or less and less like a capable starter, at least–but the Yankees will keep him in the rotation and instead move Adam Warren back to the bullpen despite his team-best 3.59 ERA in 14 starts.
New York briefly went to a six-man rotation following Ivan Nova’s return from Tommy John elbow surgery, but the plan was always to go back to five starters and Warren’s previous experience in the bullpen likely contributed to his role being changed while Sabtahia (5.65 ERA) and Nathan Eovaldi (4.81 ERA) remain starters.
(Sabathia making a ton of money and the Yankees viewing Eovaldi as having more long-term upside than Warren also played a part, certainly.)
Warren thrived as a setup man for David Robertson last season, appearing in 69 games with a 2.97 ERA and 76/24 K/BB ratio in 79 innings. And the Yankees’ bullpen can use the late-inning help with Andrew Miller on the disabled list.
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.
Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova is ready to complete his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery and is expected to come off the disabled list to make his season debut Wednesday against the Phillies.
For now the Yankees have said they’ll use a six-man rotation, but it’s unlikely to be a long-term solution and Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren could be pitching for their starting jobs.
Nova is about 13 months removed from surgery and his minor-league rehab assignment was a mixed bag in terms of results, but reports had his velocity back to pre-surgery levels. He’s making $3.3 million this season via arbitration because the Yankees wanted to keep the 27-year-old with a 4.20 career ERA despite knowing he’d miss the first 2-3 months.