Girardi welcomed back his ace left-hander Friday to start the opener of a three-game series against the struggling Cleveland Indians, losers of eight in a row.
New York is coming off a three-game sweep by the White Sox in Chicago.
Girardi hopes the addition of Sabathia will help knock the Yankees out of a recent slide that has seen New York's AL East lead shrink to 2½ games over Tampa Bay, winners of seven of 10.
Sabathia, out since Aug. 9 with left elbow inflammation, took the roster spot vacated by right-hander Ivan Nova, placed on the disabled list Thursday with an inflamed right rotator cuff.
Right-hander David Phelps had filled in for Sabathia and likely will slide into Nova's spot in the rotation, starting Monday at Yankee Stadium for the start of a three-game series against Toronto.
Phelps is available to pitch in relief and if he is needed, the start against the Blue Jays could go to right-hander Phil Hughes.
Right-hander Derek Lowe returned to Progressive Field for the first time since being signed by New York on Aug. 13. Lowe started the year 6-1 for Cleveland, but had slipped to 8-10 when the Indians released him Aug. 12.
"In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened," Lowe said. "Winning the World Series is the only reason why these guys play, which is great."
Lowe has a 2.45 ERA and one save in four relief outings for New York.