Sabathia will try to reach the mark Friday night when the Yankees open a three-game road set against the Tampa Bay Rays.
New York (102-57) has clinched the AL East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and will open the postseason next week against the AL Central champion - Detroit or Minnesota.
Manager Joe Girardi has already confirmed that Sabathia (19-7, 3.21 ERA) will be the starter in Game 1 of the division series. Sabathia, a leading contender for the AL Cy Young Award, has matched his career high win total of 19 set in 2007.
“Right now, to be honest with you, that’s kind of the last thing on my mind. I just want to get ready to pitch on Wednesday,” Sabathia said. “I mean, it would be great to win 20. I guess looking back one day, I’ll be like, `Oh, it was great. I won 20 games one year.’ But it’s not like a crazy goal or anything.”
The left-hander is 9-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his last 11 starts. He yielded one hit over seven innings Saturday to earn a 3-0 victory over Boston.
Girardi indicated he would use a lineup of regulars and employ his bullpen normally to try to preserve a win for Sabathia even though the game means nothing for the Yankees.
Sabathia is 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 14 starts against the Rays, including 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in three this year. He’s 0-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his last five outings at Tropicana Field.
New York had a seven-game win streak snapped with a 4-3 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday. The Yankees are 10-5 against the Rays (82-77) with five straight wins.
“We’re very excited about playing them, actually,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the last three games of the season.”
Tampa Bay will finish with the second winning record in team history after reaching its first World Series last year. The Rays had a four-game win streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to visiting Baltimore on Thursday.
David Price(notes) (9-7, 4.60) seeks to close out his rookie year for the Rays by winning a third straight decision. He did not get one Sunday at Texas as he gave up five runs over five innings in a 7-6 victory.
The left-hander has done his best work at home, where he is 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 11 outings. Opponents are hitting .215 against Price at Tropicana Field.
Price is 0-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this year.