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Decline of CC Sabathia a Long-Term Problem for New York Yankees

Sabathia Is No Longer a No. 1 Starter

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Decline of CC Sabathia a Long-Term Problem for New York Yankees

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CC Sabathia.

COMMENTARY | When it comes to who had a bad year for the New York Yankees, on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, there are plenty of players you could point to.

Shortstop Derek Jeter played in only 17 games and hit .190, never healing completely from two broken ankles. First baseman Mark Teixeira suffered a wrist injury and played only 15 games. Curtis Granderson broke his hand twice when hit by pitches and has only 7 home runs after hitting more than 40 in each of the past two seasons. Phil Hughes has been around all season, but might as well not have bothered. He has posted a 4-13 record with a 5.07 ERA.

Let's focus, however, on CC Sabathia. The big left-hander is finishing a disappointing season on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. His final numbers will be a 14-13 record with a career-worst 4.78 ERA. It's the first time since 2006, when Sabathia went 12-11 for the Cleveland Indians, that he has not finished a season with a winning percentage of .630 or better. His WHIP (1.370), ERA+ (85) and hits per nine innings (9.6) are all career worsts.

Sabathia is still a quality major-league pitcher, that's not the issue. The problem is he is no longer an ace, which is what the Yankees counted on him to be. At 33, with nearly 3,000 innings (regular and postseason combined) Father Time has stolen some of the velocity from his fastball and some of the bite from his breaking pitches.

Andy Pettitte is retiring. The Yankees will likely let Hughes go. Hiroki Kuroda might retire, or return to Japan. Sabathia will be back in 2014, and the Yankees will count on him to eat up innings and to be an important piece of their starting rotation.

Sabathia just can't be counted on to be a No. 1 starter any longer, and that leaves the Yankees with a huge issue heading into next season.

Ed Valentine is editor of Big Blue View, covering the New York Giants for SB Nation. He has covered the Yankees for SB Nation New York, Pinstripe Alley, Bugs & Cranks and Hot Stove New York.

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