Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In the end, it turns out that Carsten Charles Sabathia and New York was a perfect match. Better known as CC Sabathia, the left-hander was unsure if he wanted to become a Yankee in the offseason following the 2008 season. Fortunately for the Yankees he did come to the Bronx, and what followed was a great partnership.

Sabathia won't pitch again this season due to surgery on his troublesome right knee, and with his best days behind him, what Yankee fans are the many memories C.C. racked up while wearing the pinstripes.

He entered free agency in the winter of 2008 after being one of the most prolific hired guns in recent baseball memory. He was traded near the deadline from Cleveland, where he had a 6-8 record with a 3.83 ERA, a season after winning the American League Cy Young. The Indians loss was Milwaukee's gain.

Sabathia was nearly unhittable during his short time in the National League. The big southpaw went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA to lead the Brewers to a surprise playoff berth. Sabathia made four starts in 14 days in the final two weeks of the regular season. In 28.2 innings, Sabathia allowed just six earned runs, while striking out 26 and walked just three.

Sabathia's dominance in the National League and his willingness to take the ball on less than regular rest would become a sign of the next phase of his career in the Bronx.

It was reported that Sabathia wasn't sold on the idea of coming to New York after playing his whole career in Cleveland with a short stint in Milwaukee, but the Yankees' seven-year, $161 million contract offer sealed the deal.

Immediately, Sabathia proved to be well worth the label as the highest paid pitcher in the game. He finished the 2009 regular season with a 19-8 record, 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 230 innings. Despite his third straight regular season with at least 17 wins, Sabathia still had questions of if he could carry a pitching staff to a championship.

In addition to the excellent postseasons from Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Sabathia proved his worth, as the Yankees won their 27th championship in a six-game World Series victory over Philadelphia. In the second season,. C.C. was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA to put any questions to bed once and for all.

New York wasn't able to get back to the World Series in 2010 or 2011, but Sabathia continued to solidify himself as the ace of the Yankees' pitching staff. In the first three years in the Bronx, Sabathia was 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA. Sabathia notched 624 strikeouts in those three seasons, and there wasn't much debate about who was the top left-handed starter in baseball.

The Brian Kenny's of the world might scoff at the mention of Sabathia's win total being mentioned as part of his legacy as a Yankee, but that was only a part of what made C.C. great. If you looked up the term, work horse starting pitcher, Sabathia's photo would be right there.

His ERA was never below three, but he was going to give you his best every fifth day. In an era where six innings of work is considered a quality start, Sabathia went at least seven innings, in 72 percent (71/99) of his starts from 2009-2011.

In 2012, Sabathia reached 197 strikeouts, but injuries began to take a toll. In 200 innings, he allowed just 184 hits with a 15-6 record and a 3.00 ERA. By 2013, Sabathia's velocity had slipped an average of 91.3, which was down nearly a full three miles per hour from 94.1 in 2009.

The news Friday afternoon that Sabathia's season was over wasn't a surprise to anyone that has followed Sabathia's steep decline since the end of beginning of 2013 and when you hear his right knee described as degenerative, you wonder how many innings his body has left.

Sabathia turned 34 on Monday and it was a reminder that he isn't the pitcher he once was. He signed with the Yankees in the prime of his career at age 28. Over the past two seasons, he hasn't looked like the guy who at one time had a legitimate shot at 300 victories. 

He won't get to 300, but baseball fans -- especially those in New York -- will remember a pitcher who never gave in and gave everything he had for five years before his body gave in and lost the battle to Father Time.


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