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The Yankees can give CC Sabathia the sendoff of a lifetime

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The Yankees can really give CC Sabathia one last shot at the World Series.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

All CC Sabathia wants is one final World Series ring, and then he’s happy to call it a career. On Sunday, he announced through the New York Post, that if the Yankees win it all this year, he will retire. We have seen many great players hang on past their prime in order to get one more ring, but many of them have failed. The Yankees are in the perfect position to give CC exactly what he wants, though.

Thanks to their recent level of play over the last few weeks, the Yankees are now 15 for their last 16 games. They have a 24-10 record and sit just one game behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. Despite their place in the division, the Yankees currently possesses the second-best record in baseball, and FanGraphs projects them to keep this streak going all year long. Their 97.9% chance at making the playoffs is the highest among all teams, and their 14.2% chance of winning the World Series is second only to the defending champions Houston Astros.

It’s obviously a long season, and anything can happen, but this Yankees team was considered a World Series favorite heading into the season. After a slow start, this recent performance is only reinforcing what was expected of them. The offense seems to be unstoppable, the bullpen has mostly clicked into place, and the rotation is holding itself together. As long as things continue the way they are going, the Yankees should be completely fine, but that’s the nature of this game.

As for CC himself, he’s in a unique position to actually help his team reach that ultimate goal. At 37 years old, the lefty has successfully reinvented himself after years spent with diminished velocity. Though he’s missed a few starts to injury, he has a 1.39 ERA over 32 innings of work and has averaged over five innings each time out. Given the fact that he is now fully healthy, expect that number to increase as Aaron Boone gives him a longer leash.

What has allowed Sabathia to succeed is the fact that he has moved away from trying to overpower hitters, and instead relies on command, movement, and contact to get the outs that he needs. CC now has career high contact rates, while maintaining high ground ball rates during a time where his average fastball velocity has seemingly bottomed out. All the thanks can be given to that cutter he learned a few years ago, and can now properly incorporate into his repertoire.

It seems that Sabathia is well on his way to becoming another Yankees pitching veteran who leaves the team on a high note. Mike Mussina finished out his career in 2008 with a 3.37 ERA in 200 innings. He accomplished his first 20-win season, but more importantly, he was worth 4.6 WAR at the age of 38. Andy Pettitte also went out on top—twice!—with a strong performance into the 2010 playoffs, and then a 3.74 ERA over 185 innings in 2013 at the age of 41. Neither of them were able to finish with a World Series victory, because life just never really works out that way, but CC could be different.

Maybe he doesn’t have as good of a farewell season as Mussina or Pettitte, but he doesn’t have to. The 2018 squad is easily far superior than either of the 2008 or 2013 teams. Neither of them even made the playoffs, but these Yankees have the potential to go the distance. The Yankees already seem to be on a magical run here, but if they can send Sabathia out on top, it just might become legendary.