Per a tweet from Marc Carig of The Athletic, Yankees lefty CC Sabathia has decided to play next year. Though he’d indicated early on in the season that he might retire under certain circumstances, more recent statements from Sabathia had suggested he’d like to play another season. Most notably, he’d said he was taking a start-to-start approach to see how he felt, as his ability to pitch in 2019 would probably be contingent upon the health of his troublesome knee. Sabathia has continued to be a useful pitcher for the Yankees; across the past two seasons he’s taken the mound for 55 starts while posting a serviceable 3.73 ERA. There have been some small signs of decline, such as his dwindling innings per start figures across the past three seasons (Sabathia’s only averaged 5.28 innings across his 28 starts so far in 2018), but it seems reasonable to think that even if the Yankees decided not to bring him back, some team would probably be willing to pay for his services next year. That’s notable, considering Carig’s mention that Sabathia intends to play “even if it means signing with a team other than the Yankees.”
Now for a pair of notes related to the Yankees’ chief AL East rivals…
- In his latest piece for The Athletic, Eno Sarris takes a deep dive into the statistics in order to answer an interesting question: does Dave Dombrowski have a bullpen problem? Dombrowski, of course, has a track record of success wherever he’s gone throughout the course of his lengthy career (and indeed has helped this year’s Boston team to a stunningly successful campaign). But whether by shortcomings or simply coincidence, the current Red Sox and former Tigers GM has had to answer for poor bullpen production from both of those teams. Notably, Sarris points out that Boston’s bullpen ranks in the bottom 20% of all MLB teams since the club did not acquire a reliever at the August deadline. Of course, it should be noted that one of his first moves as the club’s GM was to acquire Craig Kimbrel, who’s been a fantastic success. And it’s not as though Dombrowski hasn’t made other key moves in the past couple of years to acquire bullpen help; Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg were headline acquisitions but simply haven’t worked out as fans may have hoped. Overall, Sarris’ piece is quite interesting, and comes with the added benefit of a player-by-player breakdown of the club’s relief corps.
- Also for The Athletic, Chad Jennings writes about how three infielders in the Red Sox organization have helped shape expectations about second basemen. Brandon Phillips, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia have all enjoyed paramount success throughout their careers. “We’re all different in our own ways,” Phillips said. “We’re all productive, and the way we approach the game, we all went out there, and we swung that bat. That’s what we do. We swung the bat.” The piece provides some entertaining insight into the pasts of these three players, and is well worth a read in its entirety, particularly for Red Sox fans.