Sabathia is a horse. The 31-year-old southpaw has pitched at least 230 innings for the past five seasons, and his highest FIP during that time was 3.54 (highest ERA was 3.37). He produced the second-highest strikeout rate (8.82 K/9) of his career in 2011 and posted his third seven-win season in the past five years. The issue with Sabathia, though, is that he can opt out of his contract this off-season and pursue a larger contract elsewhere. I find it hard to believe that he won’t be wearing pinstripes in 2012 but stranger things have happened and this remains a huge question mark that needs to be answered quickly, as it could shape the club’s entire off-season approach.
The organization has shed some young pitching talent over the past two years that it may have given up on a little too soon (Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon) but it wisely held onto David Robertson. Although pitchers such as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have had more hype, it could be Robertson, 26, who eventually replaces ‘Rivera The Robot’ in high-leverage situations with New York. The right-hander had one of the most dominating seasons by a reliever throughtout the Major Leagues in 2011. He posted a 1.84 FIP (1.08 ERA) in 66.2 innings and struck out batters at a rate of 13.50 K/9. He also improved his ground-ball rate almost seven percent to a career-high 46.3 GB%. One thing Robertson does need to work on is his control (4.73 BB/9). If he can continue to command his fastball-curveball combination like he did in ’11, the Yankees could have the best one-two punch in the late innings in the American League for the next few seasons.
Will C.C. leave? That’s the $64.000 question, ain’t it?