The problem; he's not their ace anymore, and Sunday's 5-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays made it very clear that the 33-year-old left hander is not the guy that the Yankees once shelled out a seven-year, $162 million deal to back in December of 2008.
Last year, the Yankees got a glimpse of the troubles that Sabathia would start to give them, as he went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA and battled inconsistency all year. Many thought it was from Sabathia trying to pitch with a smaller frame and not adapting well.
This year, he added muscle to his body, but the lack of velocity is still there and the killer instinct that Sabathia once possessed, along with the feeling that every time he took the ball on that fifth day, there was a good chance the Yankees were winning that game.
Up until now, he's 91-46 during his six seasons with the Yankees and has had double digit win totals every year he's worn the pinstripes, but the ace-like form that the Yankees paid for, the form that made them outbid the Milwaukee Brewers by $62 million for, just isn't there anymore.
Now, we're not saying he's a bad pitcher by any means; at this point of his career, Sabathia fits the bill of more of a number two or number three pitcher and can still strike out batters as he has 44 strikeouts in 40.2 innings, but the 5.75 ERA in his first seven starts clearly shows that he's not an ace anymore. The 4.75 ERA that Sabathia had last season was the showing tell that Sabathia was starting to lose his form.
And with that, the Yankees will be forced to make a deal this summer, especially if they want to make a run to October and make the playoffs because right now, the Yankees are in first place and when healthy and playing well, they are a playoff team; possibly the best team in the American League East, but when the best team in the East has their ace struggling in early May, that's a major issue.
So whether the Yankees have to call the Philadelphia Phillies to ask on Cliff Lee or the Chicago Cubs to ask on Jeff Samardzija, the Yankees will be looking for pitching help this summer, especially with Sabathia and even Hiroki Kuroda's early struggles.
Sure, Masahiro Tanaka has been solid to the point where he might be the ace of the future, but Tanaka can only go every five days, and the Yankees can't have Sabathia lasting just 3.1 innings and giving up five runs on 10 hits every start like he did against the Rays on Sunday. That's not ace-like form, and that kind of form will force Brian Cashman's hand to deal some of his young prospects to acquire help in the summer.
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