The New York Post is reporting that New York Yankees will be without starting pitcher CC Sabathia until July at the earliest. Sabathia had been placed on the disabled list for a degenerative cartilage issue in his right knee, and is eligible to be reinstated next Monday. However, Sabathia received an injection of stem cells to the injured knee, which will require at least six weeks of recovery and rehab. While stem cells have been a hotly debated subject on the national scale, their use in sports medicine is not without precedent.
While the Yankees will certainly miss Sabathia’s presence in the clubhouse, his performance on the mound has been rocky to say the least. In 46.0 innings pitched, Sabathia has produced a 5.28 ERA with a devastating 1.96 HR/9. Advanced metrics suggest that the high number of home runs allowed may be in part an aberration. xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, where home runs are calculated as 10.5% of fly balls allowed) claims his ERA should be more along the lines of 3.13. Standard FIP gives him a larger mark of 4.72.
Sabathia marks the third member of the original Yankees rotation to hit the Disabled List since the season’s beginning. Ivan Nova has been sidelined until next season with the increasingly prevalent tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament and Tommy John Surgery. Michael Pineda underwent shoulder surgery, and is on the road to recovery, having thrown a bullpen session on Sunday.
Taking Sabathia’s place in the rotation until further notice, joining depth pieces Vidal Nuno and David Phelps, is the largely unknown Chase Whitley. Whitely was a reliever in the minor leagues until this year. At AAA this season he has posted a 2.39 ERA and 1.73 FIP, impressive marks for an unheralded prospect. In his first start as a Yankee last week against the Mets, Whitley looked as good as his minor league numbers suggest. While he only went 4.2 innings, he did not allow a run and struck out four. Whitley figures to remain in the rotation (Yankees.com lists him as the probable pitcher in Wednesday’s game against Jeff Samardijza and the Cubs) on a short leash until further notice, with perhaps Alfredo Aceves or another AAA depth piece waiting in the wings should he falter.
The Yankees anticipate Sabathia will be off crutches by Monday, and will begin a full rehab and secondary Spring Training program by Tuesday.
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