New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia has been replaced on the American League Championship Series roster by Ben Heller, the Yankees announced today. Sabathia came out of last night’s Game 4 against the Houston Astros due to what was described then as a shoulder injury.
This likely marks the end of Sabathia’s 19 year career. Under the post-season rules, he is ineligible to be on the World Series roster, and a subluxated shoulder is the type of injury he would not be able to rapidly return from anyway. Sabathia had said prior to this season that he was retiring at the end of 2019, so this was likely Sabathia’s last appearance as a professional pitcher.
It has been quite a run for Sabathia, who was the #20 overall pick in the 1998 draft by the Cleveland Indians out of Vallejo High School in Vallejo, California. Currently listed at 6’6”, 300 lbs., the big lefty made 33 starts in his rookie year of 2001 with the Indians, finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting to Ichiro Suzuki. After logging 180.1 IP as a rookie, Sabathia continued to be a reliable workhorse, putting up at least 188 innings per year until 2014, when he missed most of the season due to a knee injury. From 2015 through 2018, he started at least 27 games per season, despite a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse after the 2015 season. Sabathia logged just 107.1 IP with a 4.95 ERA in 2019 for New York.
Other than the final three months of 2008, when he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers after being acquired by the Brew Crew for Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson, Sabathia has spent his entire career with Cleveland and with the Yankees. With 62.5 bWAR, a career 251-161 record and a 3.74 ERA and 116 ERA+ in 3577 career innings, he has a legitimate chance of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.