CC Sabathia's The Greatest Free-Agent Pitcher The Yanks Have Ever Signed

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IOctober 21, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18:  CC Sabathia talks to the media during a press conference to announce his signing to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on December 18, 2008  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees bludgeoned the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 10-1 in Game Four of the ALCS Tuesday night at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since the 2003 season.

Yankees ace lefthander C.C. Sabathia allowed only one run on five hits and two walks over eight stellar innings to help New York take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Angels in the best-of-seven series.

“He was spectacular again,” Yankees' manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia, who is now 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his three postseason starts this year. “To be able to shut this club down like he did, again, is no easy feat.”

Angels' manager Mike Scioscia agreed with Girardi’s assessment.

“Game one and this game, C.C. is the story,” said Scioscia of the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner who went 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA this year. “He pitched a terrific game for them.”

Sabathia, 29, who signed a seven-year contract with the Yankees worth $161 million last December, has not always fared quite so well in the postseason.

Prior to this autumn, the San Francisco Bay Area native owned a 4-3 record with a 5.45 ERA pitching in the playoffs.

While he was still a member of the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia particularly struggled in the 2007 ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox.

In two starts in the series, Sabathia was rocked by the Sox and he went 0-2 with an unseemly ERA of 10.45.

Sabathia’s porous outings paved the way for Boston to erase a 3-1 deficit to the Indians and win the series in the decisive seventh game.

“I had an opportunity and unfortunately didn’t get it done,” Sabathia recently conceded of his dismal performances two years ago.

Still, Sabathia always believed he could flourish in October.

“I never had any doubt about me being able to perform on this stage, to pitch well in October, but it seemed like people did,” said Sabathia. “I feel great and hopefully I can keep it going.”

It is indisputable that embattled Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has dominated this postseason.

Nevertheless, Sabathia has been the definition of an ace and the Yankees absolutely would not be where they currently are without him.

“He (Sabathia) does what the ace is supposed to do,” Yankees catcher Jose Molina said of the three-time All-Star selection. “He gives confidence to a whole team.”

Girardi has publicly established his plan to utilize a three-man rotation henceforth primarily to ensure that Sabathia can make the maximum amount of starts he possibly can.

The Yankees have won 26 World Series championships and they are the most storied team in the annals of North American professional sports.

The Bombers have employed many more true greats than any other franchise in Major League baseball history.

Still, at this point, Sabathia has to be considered one of the Yankees greatest free-agent acquisitions ever.

From a pitching standpoint alone, Sabathia has already surpassed Mike Mussina as the greatest hurler that the Bombers have ever attained on the free-agent market.

“This team’s good,” Sabathia said of this version of the Yankees that cruised to a record of 103-59 in the regular season. “We have great players, Hall of Fame players. We’ve got all the confidence in the world.”

When a team can potentially send a pitcher the caliber of Sabathia to the hill three times in a seven-game series, it’s easy to have “all the confidence in the world.”

Sabathia is already a “great” player.

If Sabathia continues to perform for the Yankees like he has to date, one day he could be a “Hall of Fame” player.



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