The Yankees are already going to be without their ace Luis Severino to start the season after it was announced that he’ll be shut down for two weeks due to rotator cuff inflammation. Unfortunately, now it looks like CC Sabathia will join him on the injured list, according to manager Aaron Boone.
After CC underwent another knee surgery following the season and then emergency heart surgery in early December we knew the Yankees were going to bring him back slowly to start the spring. Him missing the start of the season isn’t that big of a surprise considering he’s yet to make his spring debut, but the fact that he and Severino will both be out to start the year is a bit concerning.
The good news with CC is that Boone expects him to pitch in big league games during April and he might only have to miss a turn or two through the rotation. By all accounts, CC is healthy right now but because of the late start, it’s going to take him longer to prepare for what is set to be his final big league season.
Here’s what Boone had to say about his veteran left-hander per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
"“Everything is going pretty well,” Boone said. “He had his second ‘pen that went well [on Wednesday]. I certainly don’t expect him for the start of the season. It may be a couple of weeks in, if everything keeps going according to plan.”"
With CC and Sevy both expected to miss some time in April the favorites to take their respective spots in the rotation are Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. Luis Cessa is also in the mix, but it seems like he’s more likely to start the season in the bullpen. Cessa has struggled when he’s been given the opportunity to start over the past two years and doesn’t have the upside German and Loaisiga have.
There’s also an outside chance the Yanks sign a free agent like Gio Gonzalez to fill one of the spots but GM Brian Cashman seems set on starting the season with what they have right now.
The Yankees are clearly confident in German and Loaisiga’s abilities and have good reason to be based on how they’ve looked so far this spring. Loaisiga is the top pitching prospect in the organization and last season in just four big league starts he showed he has the stuff to be a front-line starter in the rotation for years to come. On Wednesday in his second start of the spring, he struck out five in only 2.1 innings and now leads the team with 8 K’s in 7 IP. He’s also held opposing hitters to a .160 BA.
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German has been even more impressive as he’s yet to allow a run this spring in 4.2 IP, striking out 7. Even though his numbers from a season ago don’t look very good on paper he did strike out 102 in just 85.2 IP.
And despite his 5.74 ERA in 2018, he had the ninth highest swinging strike rate among pitchers who threw at least 80 innings. When you look at the pitchers on that list who surround him it’s easy to see why the Yankees have high hopes for him heading into the season.
As comforting as it is for the Yankees to have two guys who they believe are capable of filling in for CC and Sevy they better hope that neither of them misses any more time past April. Especially Severino, because he is their ace and they need him to be just that if they’re going to reach their goal of winning the AL East.
It’s important that CC has a strong season as well but given he’s not actually injured right now he’s not as big of a concern heading into the season. As we’ve seen over the past couple years, this probably won’t be the only time he’ll be on the injured list this season because of his chronic knee issue. However, if he can make his 20-25 starts you know he’s going to be very solid and at the back end of the rotation.