A couple of years ago, that would have been the situation you wanted, but not for the past two seasons. And yet, the Yankees have found reasons to be encouraged that CC's 2015 season will end a lot better than it began, most of that rooted in his last start, in which he limited the Boston Red Sox to one run on three hits over six innings while striking out eight.
"Yeah, I really liked what I saw,'' Joe Girardi said. "I'm going to say it again, he's really important to us. There's no denying that. He's the guy that's been through this, and it would be really good to get some distance out of him today."
Which leads us to the bad news: After Tuesday night's 16-inning, five-plus hour 5-4 loss to the last-place Indians, the Yankees bullpen is fried. Closer Andrew Miller, who blew his first save opportunity of the season when he allowed two 10th-inning runs, is available, and so is set-up man Dellin Betances and probably Chasen Shreve. Everyone else is down, which is why the Yankees re-called Chris Capuano and Nick Goody today. To make room, they designated for assignment Garrett Jones -- who never got into a game after being re-signed on August 5 -- and optioned Branden Pinder, who took the loss, to Triple A Scranton. So it would really help the Yankees tonight to get at least six, and preferably seven innings out of Sabathia.
Here's the Yankees lineup versus RHP Danny Salazar (9-6, 3.38):
Chris Young LF
Stephen Drew 2B
Sabathia (4-8, 5.34)
Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting just .179 since returning from the disabled list on July 7, is riding the pine tonight. Girardi said his $153 million centerfielder is not hurt, but has "been having a rough go of it lately'' and would spend the evening working on some things with hitting coaches Jeff Pentland and Alan Cockrell . ... Young gets a rare start against a right-hander, against whom he is hitting .179 this year with an OPS of .586. Six of Young's 13 home runs, however, have come at the expense of right-handed pitchers. ... Sabathia has a career record of 51-40 at Progressive Field, most of it, of course, accumulated when he was an Indian, for whom he pitched the first eight seasons of his career. Sabathia is 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA in seven career starts against Cleveland, including 3-1, 1.91 here at Progressive. ... The Yankees have never faced Salazar, with the exception of McCann, who has faced him twice, and walked both times.