"I'm [going] start to start," Sabathia said in Cleveland last weekend, prior to his final start of the first half. "I go out one start and feel like I can pitch five more years. I go out another start and I'm [feeling] done. But if I can stay healthy -- if my knee holds up -- hopefully I'll play one more."
Sabathia is in his 10th season with the Yankees. By playing in 2019, he could pursue a World Series ring with one of the best teams in baseball while adding to his Hall of Fame resume. Sabathia's 3,417 innings pitched and 243 victories are the most among all MLB pitchers this century.
Asked how aware he is of his place in the Cooperstown discussion, Sabathia replied, "I don't think about it. It's out of my control. Whatever it is at the end, it is. I never pitch for numbers or [individual] wins or strikeouts, things like that. I can't try to do that now. I have to continue to do my thing."
Ten years ago this month, Sabathia was the most coveted pitcher leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Brewers acquired him from Cleveland for a package that included current Indians All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley. Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts for Milwaukee, helping the franchise to its first postseason berth in 26 years.
"I remember the first half, I didn't pitch good," Sabathia recalled when asked about his 2008 experience. "By the end of June, I wanted to get traded already. I was tired of hearing where I might go. I was ready for it to be done. It was good that I got a chance to go to Milwaukee and pitch twice before the All-Star break."
Sabathia signed with the Yankees during the subsequent offseason and has pitched in pinstripes ever since, including a World Series ring in 2009. The Yanks have the second-best record in the Majors and are coming off their best first half since the historic 1998 season.
And notably, Sabathia thinks the 2018 Yankees have yet to hit their stride.
"We had that [good] stretch early, but I still feel like we're going to play better," he said. "I'm still waiting for us to play well, if that makes sense. It's encouraging."