As the Yankees enter play tonight, they currently have a 4.5 game lead on the 2007 Mets-esque Boston Red Sox in the AL East. It is a pretty fair assessment to make that the Yankees will win the division with just 14 games to play, and that by the time next week rolls around, champagne may have already been split.
However, even if that happens, the Yankees in my mind should be seriously concerned about their 161 million dollar man, Carston Charles Sabathia.
Do not get me wrong - CC is a beast. He has been everything and more the Yankees could have asked for, and really has had another terrific campaign here in 2011. If Justin Verlander didn't exist, CC could have had a shot at winning the Cy Young this year.
But with the Yankees doing so well in the 2nd half and currently having a 100% chance of making the playoffs (according to Baseball Prospectus), no one has really chronicled CC's struggles that date back to the beginning of August.
And you say, "What? Struggles? CC finally beat the Red Sox!?! He just struck out 6 Angels last week!?" Well in 8 starts since the end of July (not counting last night's 5-run outing in Toronto), CC has posted a 5.70 ERA, allowing 25 earned runs. He has lost his amazing control, he's getting into a ton of jams, and even his facial expressions - he just does not look confident out on the mound.
Although winning the AL East will give the Yankees home-field advantage, they will likely face Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. CC had a horrible postseason last year, pitching similar to how he did tonight in Toronto. Luckily the Yankees bailed him out in each game. But this time around, the Yankees won't be facing the likes of Francisco Liriano or C.J. Wilson. They'll be facing 23-game winner Verlander and a white-hot Doug Fister.
I have confidence that CC can and will turn it around, but it's seriously time for the big guy to step it up. Go out and pitch like CC Sabathia, not A.J. Burnett, and make us Yankee fans feel a little better about likely facing Verlander twice in a 5-game series.
- Go Yankees