CC Sabathia was once the undoubted ace of the New York Yankees pitching staff.
He anchored them to a World Series title in 2009, his first season in the Bronx, and strung together three straight All-Star seasons after that. The next four years that followed for Sabathia were disappointing, to say the least.
CC saw his ERA jump from 3.38 in 2012 to 4.78 in 2013. The following year, he only made eight starts due to a knee injury and in 2015 he finished with a 4.73 ERA. For a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 and over 3,000 innings logged in the pros, this sharp decline waves a ton of red flags.
Arguably the biggest change in CC’s game came in the velocity department. He went from a pitcher who could dial it up to 98 MPH at times to one who sat between 89-92 MPH regularly. This, to me, jumps out as the main reason for Sabathia’s decline.
Often, when pitchers get to the age he’s at, with the type of mileage he has, they have to learn how to be successful without blowing hitters away with their fastball. Sabathia clearly struggled with this transition, and the knee injury certainly didn’t help progress his transition, but he just may have turned the corner.
Last year, he ended with a 3.91 ERA, 152 K’s and a 1.32 WHIP. While these are far from great numbers, they all were improvements from 2015, and it marked the first time Sabathia had an ERA under 4.00 since 2012. What’s more encouraging is how he’s begun 2017.
So far this year, CC has allowed just three earned runs in three starts, resulting in a 2-0 record and a 1.47 ERA. Yes, it’s only three starts, nothing to get overly excited about. But, when you combine his final eight starts of 2016 with his hot start this year, he’s pitched to a 2.13 ERA. Assuming a full year for a starter is about 33 starts, Sabathia’s hot stretch has lasted a third of a season.
Ahh, now the CC comeback story is something worth taking note of! Well, it should be. There’s plenty of reason to believe he can still be successful, and it finally seems like he’s on the right path.