CC Sabathia’s recent struggles are causing concern for Yankee fans.
In his last three starts, the usually durable Sabathia has posted a 0-2 record with a 10.93 ERA, allowing opposing hitters to hit .388 against him. According to baseballanalytics.org, only Josh Johnson of the Blue Jays has a higher ERA (12.51 ERA) and Joe Saunders of the Seattle Mariners has allowed a higher batting average (.400) than Sabathia since July 14th.
Sure, it is only a small example, but looking at Sabathia’s total numbers this season, they aren’t the dominant numbers that Yankee fans are accustomed to see.
Of course the Yankees sit in fourth place and have dealt with a bunch of injuries this season, but is it time we look and admit that CC is starting to wear down a bit?
The answer is yes.
In his illustrious 13 year career, Sabathia has picked up 200 wins and counting, pitching in 2711.1 major league innings. After pitching for so long, you have to expect that a pitcher’s velocity is going to start to go down, and slowly we see that happening with Sabathia.
Going back to July 2011, Sabathia’s fastball was averaging 94.3 mph. Back then he was able to pull back and put a little more on his fastball, which was crucial in helping him get big outs in key situations.
Looking to July 2013, his fastball has lost some life, only averaging 92.2 mph with one pitch going over 94 mph. Now, it’s becoming a problem for Sabathia, as he can’t go to that dominating fastball to blow hitters away.
Do these facts mean that Sabathia is finished and has nothing left in the tank?
The key to Sabathia turning things around is to make adjustments. He has to understand that now he has to become more of a pitcher, where in the past he was a thrower who was overpowering to most hitters.
A perfect example of a left-handed pitcher who was able to get batters out without an overpowering fastball was Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. Like Sabathia is currently going through, Glavine lost velocity on his fastball as well. Glavine was able to throw hitters off with a great circle-changeup, and also had great control with locating his pitches.
Sabathia won’t be able to get away with many mistakes like he used to, so control comes into play when making adjustments. With his secondary pitches, there is no reason why he can’t continue to pitch well for years to come; it is just a matter of locating them and not making crucial mistakes to the wrong hitters.
With five pitches in his repertoire, Sabathia has a lot of options to work with. When the fastball isn’t there, he can always go to his sinker, which he has used in the past to get out of jams. He also possesses a deadly slider that can break at any point, so it is a very tough pitch to pick up as a hitter, as well as a nice moving breaking ball and a devastating changeup that can throw any hitter off balance.
If CC is able to make the adjustments, the Yankees have to help him out as well.
It is very important that they keep him on a regular scheduled rest, maybe even a few days extra throughout the season. In 2013, Sabathia has made 11 starts on four days’ rest, making him work more in much less days to regroup. Being that he is under contract until 2017, it would be smart for the Yankees to invest in their future and keep him fresh, so that he pitches well for a longer period of time.
So relax Yankees fans, CC Sabathia will get back on track. Everyone is so used to seeing him dominate throughout baseball, and it’s shocking to see a pitcher with so much skill struggle so badly. Once the adjustments are made, get ready to see CC competing at his fullest once again, continuing to cause havoc for major league hitters for a long time.
The adjustments start in August, as CC tries to lift the Yankees back into the playoff chase.