If his longstanding plan to retire at season’s end holds up, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia has thrown the last pitch of his illustrious career. The 39-year-old suffered a shoulder injury during a relief appearance in New York’s Game 4 loss to Houston on Thursday, forcing the Yankees to pull him from their ALCS roster. That means even if the Yankees manage to overcome what’s now a 3-2 deficit against the mighty Astros to advance to the World Series, Sabathia won’t be eligible to participate in the Fall Classic.
Sabathia’s left to root for the Yankees to win it all without his help, though he told reporters it’s “kind of fitting” he’s going out this way. “I threw until I couldn’t anymore,” said Sabathia, whose left arm has been through the wringer since he debuted with the Indians back in 2001.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Sabathia has amassed 3,707 2/3 innings. Also a former Brewer, whom he all but dragged to the playoffs in 2008 after they acquired him from the Indians, Sabathia has eclipsed 200 frames in eight different regular seasons. He fired 241 (the second-highest mark of his career) in 2007, his lone Cy Young-winning campaign.
Various injuries robbed Sabathia of the chance for another workhorse-type season in 2019, as he racked up a career-low 107 1/3 innings during his uncharacteristically ineffective swan song. Sabathia only pitched to a 4.95 ERA/5.66 FIP, but a subpar final season hardly overshadows the rest of a brilliant run in the majors. Owner of a lifetime 3.74 ERA/3.78 FIP, Sabathia’s going out as one of the premier starters in recent memory, giving him a legitimate chance for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The question now is whether Sabathia should end up in Cooperstown, where he could earn a coveted plaque as early as 2025. As someone who ranks 16th all-time in strikeouts (3,093), 37th in pitcher fWAR (66.5), 48th in wins (251), 49th in pitcher bWAR (62.5) and 64th in regular-season innings (3,577 1/3), the credentials for strong consideration exist. He’s also a six-time All-Star, a one-time World Series champion (2009, when he was integral in the Yankees’ most recent title run) and, if it matters for his HOF odds, a revered teammate and leader. Whether all of that makes him a Hall of Famer is up for debate. What do you think?
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