CC in the postseason

NLDS Game 2: Dodgers @ Cubs
What went wrong: Second base

Over his last four postseason appearances, CC Sabathia has not impressed. He’s 1-3 over that span, and in 19 innings, the lefty has surrendered 20 runs on 27 hits and 17 walks. Tonight, against the Phillies, CC had the velocity, but he had no command. Clearly, he seemed fatigued after throwing 500 pitches over two weeks and making three starts in a row on three days’ rest.

While the media will spin this as a story about CC’s inability to pitch in a big game, he’s thrown in three straight big games before today. Rather, if the Yanks are to pursue CC, they should pay careful attention to his regular season innings and realize that, if they want an effective postseason pitcher, they’ll have to manage his innings better than the Indians did last year and the Brewers did this year.

NLDS Game 2: Dodgers @ Cubs
What went wrong: Second base
  • Ivan

    CC looked gas. Again, when ya tired, the first thing that goes is command and his command was brutal. The guy for a like a week or two was pitching every three days. I mean that’s just crazy. Last season he pitch close to 250 innings. This season, 252 innings. Maybe all those innings caught up to him in the postseason the last couple seasons.

    • whozat

      No! He’s clearly just a Choker! He doesn’t Know How To Win! He’s the ARod of pitchers!

      Seriously, from the moment the Yanks sign him (if they do) ALL we’re going to hear from most outlets is about how he’s not gotten it done in the post-season. Some relatively level-headed person will point out that pitching three straight (essentially) do-or-die games in a row on short rest to GET the team to the playoffs is pretty impressive, and then Joe Morgan or John Kruk or some other idiot will pooh-pooh that by saying that “the post-season is just different”

      • pat

        doubtful anybody would even mention that he pitched 3 times in 9 days to get them to the playoffs, not on tv at least. Sensationalism sells, rationale is for the birds

  • Rebecca – Optimist Prime

    I think you might have a case for comparing Sabathia to Martin Brodeur in terms of overuse.

    I understand different sports, different rules, but consider that a lot of the Devils’ recent first an second rround playoff exits have to do with the fact that brodeur started CRAZY numbers of games (I’d give you solid info if it wasn’t so late and I knew where to look) and by the time the team gets to April, he’s completley tired out–though he’ll, of course, never admit it.

    What has me concerned about CC is that he struggled in the postseason last year, too. I don’t know what he was pitching for Cleveland, but he wasn’t throwing three games in a row on three days’ rest.

    • Ben K.

      It’s an innings issue though. He threw 240 innings prior to the post-season last year and 250 innings prior to the post-season this year. That is an insane amount of innings these days.

      • Mike A.

        With the Indians in the first half of the year, he threw 122.1 IP in 18 starts. After the trade to Milwaukee he threw 130.2 IP in 17 starts. He threw 8.1 more innings in 1 fewer start, and 51.1 IP in the last 29 days of his season alone.

        If that doesn’t scream overuse, I don’t know what does.

      • Rob

        But where’s the decrement in September – when the “overuse” would be at it’s absolute worst? Instead, he

        • Bo

          Should he be priority #1 with all this overuse and the fact that he’s going to need a 7 yr deal?

          Especially a guy who would only be following the money.

      • Reggie C.

        The innings are an issue but more specifically its the lack of rest (i.e. 3 straight appearances on 3 days rest) that did CC in. The man needs rest. Period.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      You might be able to make that case if the record bore it out, but it doesn’t. Brodeur’s playoff numbers have not suffered from regular season overuse – his playoff stats haven’t suffered at all. The Devils happened to be overmatched in the playoffs last season, as a team, so people had the kneejerk reaction of “oh well Brodeur must have been overused.” It had much more to do with having a defensive corps filled with the likes of Vitaly Vishnevski and led by Johnny Oduya and Paul Martin than it did with any overuse of Brodeur.

      Brodeur career regular season:
      2.20 GAA .914 SAVE%

      Brodeur career postseason:
      1.96 GAA .919 SAVE%

      However much this may pain Rangers fans, the more apt comparison would be that Martin Brodeur is the Mariano Rivera of hockey. All praise be to Brodeur.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I should have added that Brodeur has played in 70+ games every season but one since 1994-1995 and his playoff stats have been better than his regular season stats just about every season. To look at his 2007-2008 and conclude that “a lot of the Devils’ recent first an second rround playoff exits have to do with the fact that brodeur started CRAZY numbers of games” and that by the playoffs Brodeur is “completley tired out–though he’ll, of course, never admit it” is to completely ignore the other 13 seasons of his career. The record simply does not bear out your claim.

      • Rebecca–Optimist Prime

        you know, when I graduated middle school my parents got me signed pictures of Rivera and Brodeur as my graduation present and I’ve been drawing comparisons ever since.

        thanks for providing the stats–I’ve been unable to follow hockey for a couple years, so I didn’t realize that it wasn’t Brodeur that’s sufferd =)

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          No worries… Little embarrassed I reacted so strongly to your comment. I just think that kind of narrative (Brodeur gets tired) is an easy trap for people to fall into and it’s just not a reasonable conclusion to draw from the historical record. You’ve got one of the best goaltenders ever playing in a market in which his team is treated as third-class citizens, and I think there’s a tendency to try to tear him down because this town is so pro-Rangers (which is understandable). I think people WANT to believe that Brodeur isn’t so good anymore or that he tires in the playoffs, anything to kinda bring him down a notch, but it’s really just not a defendable position.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos

        What the fuck is this “Hockey” thing that you all are talking about?

        Is that a sport? Never heard of it.

  • Travis G.

    CC is the top priority this offseason. what scares me is that it might not matter how much the Yanks offer if he truly wants to play in Cali.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      [pounding head against desk]

      • Travis G.


  • Slugger27

    no question innings is an issue…. with the yanks improved bullpen, i dont see any reason for him to be anywhere 250 next year should he arrive

    mike mussina pitched every start asked of him and he pitched what? 195? somethin close? and he was effective/efficient all year aside from april

    clearly, the brewers/indians knew CC wouldnt play for them in 2009 so they didnt really care about overuse… im sure the brewers figured it wouldnt affect him until next year, but at least if we land him we’ll have learned a lesson from how the indians treated him last year and the brewers this year: though it may state the obvious, 250 innings in the regular season spells disastrous postseason results, even for the most durable and healthy pitchers

  • J.R.

    CC is a workhorse and would helpeatup innings. That wouldhelpalot with Joba’s plan next year. If wang stays healthy thats400 IP. That makes jobas 150 alot easier to pull off.

    Add Mussina or one other 200 inning pitcher and the yabkees will be in business.

  • Mark B

    To me, a pitcher that pitches 240-250 innings is a workhorse……though, whenever that pitcher loses in the playoffs, I guess it’s called “overuse” – even when he has not apparent injury.

    CC is obviously displaying some major warnings signs of underperforming when placed under the pressure of playing playoff baseball.

    Given the intense pressure of playing in New York, the high expectations we all have, is this really the guy I want to see the Yankees sign for $20-25 million over 7 years? I don’t think so…..

    • Mike Pop

      Id rather see Tex in the Bronx for that kind of money and than Burnett for another 60 or 70

      • Chris C.

        “Id rather see Tex in the Bronx for that kind of money and than Burnett for another 60 or 70”

        I just cannot understand this love affair with AJ Burnett. I really don’t get it. Do you people live in a vacuum, or something? Aside from his dominence of the Yankees this year, the guy posted an ERA over 4.00, has a WHIP of about 1.4, has constantly been injured throughout his career, and received almost 6 runs per game from Toronto’s offense, which accounts for his 18 wins this year.

        Going out and getting a guy just because he pitched great against your team is a bit silly. It’s certainly not doing your homework. And let
        s be honest, folks………starting pitchers who sign with the Yankees as free agents NEVER do any better than what they did at their previous stop.
        That’s fine if you’er inking Sabathia, but Burnett? No thanks.

    • radnom

      “To me, a pitcher that pitches 240-250 innings is a workhorse”

      Well then, by your definition, Sabbathia and Halladay are the ONLY workhorses in the Major Leagues….

      “though, whenever that pitcher loses in the playoffs, I guess it’s called “overuse”

      You do realize he has pitched almost complete games on three days rest the last few starts right?

      “CC is obviously displaying some major warnings signs of underperforming when placed under the pressure of playing playoff baseball.”

      aaaand there we are. Let me just take a guess, but I’m guessing you’re not the biggest fan of Arod, are you?

  • Rob

    As I pointed out in the game thread, if it’s explained by work load, why is the best month in his career splits September? And if his arm is gradually getting tired, you’d expect the last few regular season games to show some trends, especially with his control. That fatigue just hasn’t been there – in 2007 or 2008 he ended both regular seasons strongly.

    Sorry, but I’m beginning to think he just doesn’t have the playoff guts. But it’s up to him to prove me wrong.

    Worse for the “work load” argument – there’s exactly zero evidence for it. It’s an explanation without an empirical test – yet.

    • AndrewYF

      He’s fallen apart at the same innings threshold two years in a row. He was pitching on three days rest for the THIRD TIME IN A ROW.

      If you think he’s not a ‘big game pitcher’, you’re an idiot. He put the Brewers on his back and CARRIED them to the postseason. He won the postseason clincher!

      • A.D.

        maybe a Mussina situation where he’d hear he was at 100 pitches and feel like he was gassed

      • Rob

        Oh, I get now. 250 innings is the magical threshold where CC turns into a pumpkin. That makes a ton of sense. Actually, if you think that you must be an idiot. But by your own standard, when he pitched his clinching game this year was where he was during last year’s post-season. Except, the results couldn’t have been more different.

        All I know is, I simply look at CC’s October vs. September innings and there’s a HUGE (like *5.00* runs in ERA) dropoff in performance. Occam says it’s the playoffs. Some guys just don’t have the head for it. That could change, but there’s no evidence yet that it will.

        BTW: I still think the Yanks should go after him aggressively – but more for what he’d do to help them get into October. Once there though I want to see him perform like an ace, rather than assume he will be.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos

          “Occam says it’s the playoffs.”

          I almost fell out of my chair on that one. Dude, that’s such bullshit. Don’t ever quote Ockham’s Razor again, if you don’t know how to use it.

          CC’s been whipped like a donkey the past two years and at the end of all that whipping, he’s ended the year with bad games, and you think that the simplest explanation for that is that “Some guys just don’t have the head for [the playoffs]”?


          • ceciguante

            it’s entirely possible that CC’s choking, and it’s in his head. i think in 5 playoff starts he’s got a 7.92 ERA.

            sure, the overuse theory is plausible and maybe even probable, but is it a coincidence that last start, for the division, he was great, and as soon as it’s october the “overuse” explanation kicks in?

            i just don’t get your histrionics, as if your superior grasp of occam’s razor is offended by the suggestion that CC’s falloff could be the pressure of october. if you were that smart you’d be a GM, not an internet snob.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos

              It’s POSSIBLE, yes.

              It’s not “the simplest explanation”, no. That’s the reason for my histrionics. You can speculate about his mind all you want, but the simplest explanation is simply that he was fatigued, considering, you know, that he exhibited all the body mechanics of an overtired pitcher.

              • ceciguante

                was he “tired” for all his other playoff starts, including last year when he managed to be the only pitcher who the hapless yanks could hit? and why wasn’t he tired during his last start? i tend to agree it was probably fatigue, but the notion that the simplest difference was that it was a playoff start is not ridiculous.

                i just don’t get people jumping all over anyone who has a contrary opinion, it makes the comments on this blog pretty annoying to read sometimes. i don’t see the need for 58 “HA”s and WTF?!?!??!?!!!!!!!!))))))00000000lookhowsmartiam!!!!!1111111111s.

                it’s ok to disagree without being juvenile about it.

  • Nick

    The poor postseason numbers shouldn’t be ignored, but are not that much of a concern to me. If there is no underlying injury, simple fatigue could be the issue, or just the fact of “small sample size”.

    From 2006 to 2007, CC increased his innings by 50 in the regular season, so it would be reasonable to expect him to be gassed by the postseason. And this year, all his work to get the Brewers into the postseason, 3 starts in a row on 3 days rest, would explain the fatigue.

    If the yanks do their due diligence, and find no injury concerns (above that which is normal for any pitcher) I’d say go ahead and sign him. Let him pitch 250 IP/year…if the yanks are paying $20M/year, they might as well get their money’s worth. They’re paying for a workhorse, so don’t use him as a 6-7 inning pitcher.

    • A.D.

      Well toss him the normal 200-220 in the regular season, then you have 30-50 innings he’s used to pitching in the regular season, for the playoffs

      • Reggie C.

        Exactly. Wang won his 19 games on a 220 IP campaign a couple years back. CC should be able to win 19 in similar fashion, as long as the Yanks address the offense.

    • Old Ranger

      I see what you are saying but, if one signs him for 5-7 years, do you really want him to flame out in 3-5 years? I like the idea of pitching him 200+/- then having something left for the play-offs/WS (as per; AD).
      I am not sold on him for the Yanks, but I wouldn’t pass on him either. Years on a contract is the hard part for me, not the money. 27/09

  • TurnTwo

    i hope there are really people in organizations who are saying CC is a choker, and cant handle the postseason, and question whether they want to commit to him for a long term deal just to rule out another suitor. makes it a little easier for the CashMan to lock him down.

    • steve (different one)

      i’d like to think so, but most GMs got their jobs (Steve Phillips excluded) because they are smarter than the George King’s of the world.

      i don’t think one bad start is going to scare anyone away. his pricetag and his workload will scare some away though.

  • A.D.

    Great article on what really happened with Manny in Boston

    • Bo

      That’s a bitter fan blaming an agent. Does Boras put a gun to these athlete’s heads and force anything? Does he put a gun to a teams head? They didn’t have to trade Manny. Obviously its worked out for all parties.

      • A.D.

        I thought someone coming out and calling out the Sox on having the Boston sports media market under their thumb was the actual interesting part

  • Bo

    I think the best thing right now would be Tex at 1b and Burnett and Lowe instead of one Sabathia. Those innings and his post season failures scare me.

    Wang-Joba-Lowe-Burnett-Pettitte Not bad at all

    • radnom

      That rotation is what scares me. NO thanks.

      • Bo

        How does pairing Burnett and Lowe with those 3 scare you??

        They get two proven AL East pitchers.

        Who else you going to throw in there? CC’s 9,000 innings the past 2 yrs doesn’t scare you??

        • Reggie C.

          Its more like 500 innings but I get your point. What scares is me the fact that the Brewers had him pitch on 3 days rest in each of his last FOUR starts. CC didn’t know when to say “nuff”, and now he better hope his elbow checks out in physicals.

        • A.D.

          Burnett & Lowe is a load of cash, figure at least 15M a piece, probably more like 17M

          Burnett is injury prone, and can be very up and down

          Last time Lowe was in the AL east he wasn’t stellar, and there is a big difference between pitching in a pitchers park, in the NL, in the worst division in baseball than coming to the AL east.

          • radnom

            Exactly. Throw in the fact that I have a lack of confidence in Pettite going into next season, and Joba being on an innings count, and 3-4 members of that rotation are big ????

          • ceciguante

            completely agree. lowe would get lit up to a ~5 era if he returned to the AL east at age 36 from one of the easiest divisions/parks in MLB. wait, what am i saying…he got lit up to a 5 era in the AL east when he was 31.

            pass on lowe! pay CC and be done with it. it’s a risk, but i think it’s a good one (despite the overuse and worries about october performance). let’s not make the santana mistake twice!

            • Chris C.

              “let’s not make the santana mistake twice!”

              Right…….let’s pass judgement on that non-trade after one season. Very intelligent. Nevermind that Santana will be on the extreme downside of his career in 2-3 years, while Hughes and Kennedy will be 25 years old.
              We’ll pass judgement now.

              • ceciguante

                i passed judgment on that non-trade when it was made, and i think i was right. that’s a GM’s job, to forecast what the best move will be. anyone can sit back and tell you 5 years later if it was a good move or not. i agree that we won’t know *for sure* for 5 years or so, but so far it’s Advantage: Santana.

                good chance we make the playoffs if he was here instead of a year’s worth of hughes/ipk/rasner/fat sid in 2008.

              • ceciguante

                btw, you’re a fan of derek lowe, and you’re knocking MY intelligence?


          • Chris C.

            “Last time Lowe was in the AL east he wasn’t stellar”,

            Except against the Yankees during the big 2004 playoff collapse.
            Over the past 7 seasons, the man averaged 205 innings per year…….WORKHORSE. In the postseason throughout his career, he’s made 20 appearences, including 8 starts, and has a career postseaosn ERA of 3.31.
            That’s pretty damn nice!

            • ceciguante

              it’s pretty nice, but do you think he’d repeat that at age 36?

              i don’t. i think he’d get paid $12-15M/year, suck, and endanger our chances of even making the playoffs.

              if we sign lowe and not sabathia, i’m not convinced we don’t play next october, either.

              • Chris C.

                Fair enough.

                I’d still take Lowe over Burnett though.

        • whozat

          What has Burnett proven? That he can rarely get through a whole season without spending time on the DL and that he generally pitches mediocrely against any team not named “The Yankees”?

          Wanting Burnett is a classic case of only paying attention to what a guy does when he’s on the mound against the Yanks and ignoring the entire rest of his career.

          • Chris C.

            Yes, sadly, there are alot of Yankee fans who don’t know what players do unless they’re playing the YAnkees……like AJ Burnett.

            And even worse, fans are prone to mimic what they read in newspapers, and take them as fact. Hank Steinbrenner, of all people, throws the guy’s name out there, and everyone gets all hot and wet for him.

  • Old Ranger

    Ivan & whozat have it about right in my humble opinion…
    Facts we all know; Season is a marathon, play-offs are a sprint…right?
    If one sprints the last few games of the season…how much is in the tank, for the real sprint?
    CC has a small sample play-off games to pick from, but in no way am I going to criticize him for the numbers he puts up in the PO games.
    Has anyone thought CC may be a lot like Boomer; good pitcher, overweight, lefty with a rubber arm…if so, good pick-up???