This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
It has been nearly four years since CC Sabathia threw his final pitch from the Yankee Stadium mound, leaving it all out on the field as his Yankees faced the Astros in the American League Championship Series.
Sabathia was back in the Bronx this week at a promotional event for Poland Spring, during which he tossed batting practice to several lucky invitees (including a certain MLB.com beat reporter).
MLB.com: From the outside looking in, what have you thought of this Yankees season?
Sabathia: It’s crazy because I haven’t gotten a chance to watch a lot, just being kind of busy. But I mean, I don’t know, is it health? I feel like with the rule changes, the roster kind of didn’t help itself. I was watching the game a couple of weeks ago and they got like three hits in an inning and the bases were loaded. You watch other teams play and get three hits in an inning and people were running all over the place. It may be just, the way the rules are and the games are played, the roster may need to change a little bit. But with the young guys coming up, seeing [Jasson] Domínguez and [Anthony] Volpe and [Oswald] Peraza and all these younger guys, it’s exciting to see that. We haven’t had that since 2016.
MLB.com: Is that the biggest thing? If you were Hal Steinbrenner, what questions would you want answered this offseason?
Sabathia: It’s hard to say, because it’s just health. If [Aaron] Judge is healthy — which sucks for him, because it’s just like, everything is on him. I don’t know. But I think getting Domínguez back healthy, a full season for him, maybe sewing up third base. Getting a left fielder. It’s a lot (laughs). … I think our [training] staff is great. I’ve been down there forever, and I know what the guys do. I think it’s just been bad luck. It’s the oddest thing. Domínguez comes up, he’s on fire, and then he needs Tommy John. I don’t think the staff can prevent that, you know what I’m saying?
MLB.com: What have you thought of Gerrit Cole this season?
Sabathia: I think he should win the Cy Young Award. Despite everything that’s going on with the team, he’s been the one guy that when he’s on the mound, you feel like you’re going to win the game. It’s hard to be the ace of the Yankees. I think you need to count that into the voting — pitching here, pitching under this scrutiny and being the only guy on the [staff] when the team wasn’t that good this year. Every time he goes out, he needs to win the game. And he’s been pretty much doing it.
MLB.com: As someone who’s won a Cy Young Award, what do you respect or admire about his game?
Sabathia: Man, you know what I love about him? He takes the ball every fifth day. You never hear about a scratched start or [that he] woke up with a sore neck. When it’s his day to pitch, he’s pitching. I love that about him. He’s always been like that.
MLB.com: Do you think Cole and Carlos Rodón are enough to carry this rotation into 2024?
Sabathia: I think you always need pitching. Look at the Dodgers; they went into the season with so many guys in their rotation and Dustin May gets hurt, Walker Buehler. I think you always need seven to eight starters. I would love to see Sevy [Luis Severino] come back. He got hurt, but he was turning it around before he got hurt. I just think he hasn’t pitched a full season in a long time. So just giving him another year to come back and maybe get comfortable, and be in this rotation with those two, I think it would help. But I think you always need to go out and get starters.