MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are trying to drive their rental all the way to the postseason. The team will, in fact, ask left-hander CC Sabathia to make a second consecutive start on three days' rest Wednesday against the Pirates, and might do so again Sunday in the regular-season finale if he's needed. Cue the red flags around baseball. The Brewers, who acquired the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner in July, have already been criticized by some for overworking Sabathia -- who will be a free agent after the season and almost certainly will out-price Milwaukee. Sabathia himself brushed aside those criticisms Tuesday, and insisted he didn't worry whether teams would second guess their offseason offers based on concerns about his heavy workload.
"I'm not doing this for that," Sabathia said. "I'm doing this to get in the playoffs, and I really don't care what other teams say or are worried about. I'm worried about this locker room, trying to get us in the playoffs. None of that even crosses my mind." Acting Brewers manager Dale Sveum would not name any starters beyond Wednesday, which was both a sign of his "win today" mentality -- the Brewers were one game behind the Mets in the National League Wild Card race entering Tuesday -- and of his worry about right-hander Jeff Suppan's sluggish September. Suppan, who is 0-3 with a 10.47 ERA in four starts this month, should have been lined up to start Wednesday. "We talked," Sveum said. "He understands where we're at." Sveum would not even name Suppan as his starter for Thursday, though Suppan presumably remains an option. Another option is right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who was activated from the disabled list Tuesday but expressed some doubt about whether his surgically repaired knee would allow him to hit and run the bases. Ben Sheets, who left his last start after two innings and revealed to reporters a right elbow injury, played catch Tuesday and felt "better than he thought he would feel," according to Sveum. But while there is "optimism there" that Sheets will be able to make one more start, he would not be an option until Saturday at the earliest. "CC is still our best option to win [Wednesday's] game," Sveum said. "That's the fact of the matter. Fortunately, you're about to have one of the best pitchers in baseball who can endure three days' rest. "He's all for it. He says he feels great. There were no ramifications from three days' rest in his last start. ... There's nothing we're doing that a team that had him for the next six years certainly wouldn't do. There's no question for my mind, and he's all for it. "He's very much a stand-up guy and a team guy, and he knows that he's not going to get abused. We're not sending him out there for any other reason than he's the best option for the Milwaukee Brewers to win a game. There's no doubt in my mind that if we had signed him and we had him for six more years, we would be doing the same thing. That's the reality of it, whether people like it or not. That's not my problem or CC's problem. It's the reality of the Milwaukee Brewers trying to get to the playoffs." Sabathia made the second start of his career on short rest Saturday against the Reds and allowed four runs in six innings, though three of the runs scored were unearned because of first baseman Prince Fielder's error. Sabathia said he had his best fastball command of the season, but did not have his best offspeed pitch, which Sveum refers to as a slider but Sabathia calls his "cutter." The fact he struggled with that pitch had nothing to do with working on short rest, Sabathia said. "It just didn't really feel it," Sabathia said. "I didn't have it to put guys away with ... That's why I think we struggled a little bit. If we have it [Wednesday], I'll be fine." Former Brewers manager Ned Yost made the decision in July to give all of his starters extra rest when the team had off-days, instead of keeping Sabathia and Ben Sheets on an every-five-day schedule and juggling the other arms as needed. Sabathia believes that decision is one reason he feels strong now. He also credited the Indians, the organization that owned Sabathia for his first 10 professional seasons. "I was so protected early in my baseball career that it's allowing me to do some things like this," Sabathia said. "If I had been doing this for years, I think you'd see my arm not be as fresh. But the Indians really kept a close eye on me and worried about my pitch count and how much I was throwing. I think that helps me now that I'm older and more grown and more mature. I'm really able to handle that workload." If Sunday proves to be a meaningful game, Sabathia said he would march into Sveum's office and ask to pitch. "I'm going to do whatever I can do to get in," Sabathia said. "That's why I'm here."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.