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Sabathia has been almost automatic for New York.
Carsten Charles Sabathia is intimidating. He’s a stopper. He’s a horse. He’s an ace. In my opinion, he’s one of the best free agent signings in Yankees history.
The Yankees desperately needed a win last night. With a Lonogoria-less Rays team, New York faced losing two out of three at home to their division rival. One day after new closer David Robertson blew a save, in my mind, the Yanks probably faced their first “must-win” game of the season. They matched up against David Price, who is having a Cy Young caliber year.
Coming into last nights game, Price had been 3-0 with a 1.56 era in career head-to-head meetings with Sabathia, who was 0-3 with a 5.91 era. With Robertson unavailable, the Yanks needed length. They needed a vintage Sabathia performance. They needed to stop the start of another losing streak.
Sabathia rose to the occasion.
He fired eight innings, giving up two runs (both unearned) while allowing seven hits and striking out 10. Sabathia now has 29 career games with 10 or more K’s. He handed the ball over to Rafael Soriano for the save, and the Yankees held on to win 5-3.
Sabathia was originally drafted 20th overall by the Cleveland Indians in 1998. His first year in the big leagues was in 2001, when he went 17-5 with a 4.39 era. He led the Indians to the ALCS in 2007, the same year he won the Cy Young Award. In fact, from 2007-2011, he finished in the top five in the voting every year.
In 2008, Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He started on three days rest multiple times down the stretch as the Brewers tried to make the postseason. Sabathia was other-worldly with Milwaukee, posting an 11-2 record with a 1.65 era, and even finishing fifth in the NL Cy Young voting after appearing in just 17 games for the Brew Crew.
In December of 2008, with a new stadium ready to open, the Yankees made the choice to give Sabathia a seven year $161 million contract, the richest ever for a pitcher at the time. In ’09, Sabathia went 19-8 with a 3.31 era. He won the ALCS MVP, a series in which he went 2-0 with a 1.13 era. Eventually, he would win a World Series, the first of his career.
Since he came to the Yankees in 2009, you can make the case that Sabathia is one of the best free agent signings in team history. He represents something the team didn’t have from 2001-2008 – an ace in his prime, who can completely dominate a game and put the team on his back when they need it most. If the team needs a big win, he gives it you. If you need to end a losing streak, he’ll end it. If you need to rest the bullpen, he’ll throw eight innings, maybe even nine; Sabathia has 33 career complete games.
Run down the list of ineffective pitchers GM Brian Cashman signed during the most recent championship drought: Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, an old Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright, Kei Igawa, Jose Contreras to name a few.
After the 2011 season, Sabathia could opt-out of his contract. He did of course, seeking more money. One of the most important moves in the offseason was to resign him. Eventually, Sabathia agreed to a new deal, which pays him $122 million over five years. The contract also has a $25 million option for 2017, should he stay healthy.
Sabathia is worth every penny.
So far his in career, Sabathia is 181-96 with a 3.51 era, well on his way to 300 wins. As a Yankee in just four plus seasons, he is a remarkable 64-23 with an era of 3.20. In his career all-time at Yankee Stadium, he is 29-7 with an era of 3.00. He’s led the league in wins three separate times, all of which coming with New York. So far in 2012, he leads the AL in wins and strikeouts, en route to another all-star appearance.
Out of all the free agent signings the Yankees have had, you’ve got to put Sabathia right up there as being one of the best decisions the team has ever made. They’ve already won a championship with him as the ace of the staff. Something tells me they’ll win more, as long as Sabathia stays healthy and is the horse they need in big games.