After a checkup with Dr. James Andrews, it has been revealed that CC Sabathia has no meniscus tear in his right knee, says George King of the New York Post. Due to degenerative changes in his right knee, the Yankees' left-hander will receive a cortisone shot and an injection of stem cells instead. There is no timetable for Sabathia's return, however.
"You drain the knee, inject cortisone and stem cell into the knee, and you see how it responds," Yankee GM Brian Cashman said. "That's the typical protocol for that. There have been a number of successes through the process," Cashman concluded. Those successes include Carlos Beltran, Hideki Matsui, Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and Randy Johnson.
Even though Sabathia looks a lot like the guy from 2013, this is still a big loss for the Yankees. The results have been very rocky for Sabathia so far, but he has tried to make the adjustments from being a power pitcher to more of a finesse pitcher; there is still hope that he can complete that transition, instead of turning into Barry Zito for good. Hopefully this knee procedure will help Sabathia get back on track, and I'm sure a little two-week or so break in the middle of the year wouldn't hurt.
In the meantime, the Yankees will have to deal with the rotation while Sabathia (plus Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova) is on the shelf. Chase Whitley will make his Major League debut tonight against the Mets and I have no idea what to expect. Just 14 of Whitley's 151 career minor league appearances were as a starting pitcher and he went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft after being unprotected by the Yankees. He has always had good minor league numbers, even when he was starting, but there's much more to a minor leaguer than the stats. We'll see how he does.
Unfortunately, there just aren't that many attractive options at all in the organization to fill out the rotation. David Phelps could possibly pass as a number five starter, and I think we've so far seen why Vidal Nuno was in independent ball just three years ago. Not to mention, teams around the league aren't going to open up shop to trade players (like the Phillies with Cliff Lee) since it's still pretty early in the season. The Yankees will have to get by with what they have for now though, and hope whatever they have can help keep them afloat in the standings.