Worrying about Sabathia’s workload

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Remembering the very forgettable replacements

It’s no secret that CC Sabathia has thrown a ton of innings in recent years, more than anyone else in baseball in fact. Since Opening Day 2007, he’s thrown 779.1 innings including the playoffs, a total of 11,938 pitches. That’s insane. Scott Randall at ESPN took a look at the workloads of the innings leader for some recent World Series teams, and points out that every one of them saw their performance decline the year after their WS run, usually drastically. Go beyond that and look at some of the pitchers on the losing teams as well, guys like Jamie Shields and Jeff Francis took a step back the next year as well.

So of course this is a concern for the Yankees, we didn’t need Randall to tell us this. If there’s one thing to take solace in, it’s that Sabathia’s career high 266.1 IP in 2009 is just 9.2 IP over his career high set in 2008, and was spread out over another month of playing. That extra month is pretty big. So yeah, there’s a good chance Sabathia’s performance will take a step back this year, but you know what? That’s exactly why the Yanks went out and got Javy Vazquez.

RAB Live Chat
Remembering the very forgettable replacements
  • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    While I have some concern, Buehrle is the only true comparison I see on the list. The other guys had several other factors involved. Schilling was 38, Carpenter and Beckett had previous injury history and Hamels was only 24 (and didn’t really pitch any worse in 2009).

    Even Buehrle isn’t a great comp, since he an CC are completely different pitchers. If CC loses a little stuff, he can still get by. Buehrle’s stuff isn’t nearly what CC’s is, so if he’s hampered in even the slightest way, he can go from great to terrible pretty easily.

    While he obviously threw more innings, I would think 2008 was more taxing on CC than 2009 was.

    • A.D.

      Good thing is that Buehrle bounced right back the next year.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    Having 2 (or possibly 3 or 4) starters-turned-longmen in the bullpen helps too. Our bullpen is going to consist of 7 of the following 8 players:
    Mo, Marte, Robertson, Park, Aceves, Gaudin, Mitre, Hughes

    Of those, only Mo, Marte, and Robertson are generally one-inning-only guys at this point. Having all those starters in relief roles should allow us the flexibility to pull CC, Andy, and AJ (who all racked up large innings workloads last year) early, like after the end of the 6th inning, and give more innings to the bullpen without burning out or overusing any of the short releivers.

    • http://www.hyperfunkalicious.net/ Templeton “Brendog” Peck

      yes. but will that actually happen?

      • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        If there’s one thing Girardi has given us reason to have faith in him about, it’s his awareness of his pitchers’ workloads and his ability to monitor such workloads, no?

        • A.D.

          Girardi is good at monitoring workloads, I’m guessing more skepticism on using the relievers for multi innings.

          • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            But those are not mutually exclusive concepts.

            I understand why people are skeptical about this stuff in general, and my response is that if we have reason to trust Girardi to be aware of and act on this kind of stuff, what I’m saying is some of that skepticism should be tempered appropriately.

      • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

        I don’t see us regularly pulling starters unless they’re around 100 pitches. Maybe the difference from last year to this year is that CC won’t be hitting 120 pitches. Maybe you don’t send Pettitte back out for another inning if he’s got 92+ pitches. Same with Burnett. For the most part, I doubt we see too much of a change.

    • A.D.

      give more innings to the bullpen without burning out or overusing any of the short releivers.

      Assuming they’re actually used that way, which I certainly hope they are

    • Bo

      Like they will ever take Sabathia out of a game early and give the ball to Mitre or Gaudin.

      Theres a reason they gave him the largest contract ever for a pitcher.

      Durability is one of those reasons

  • A.D.

    Figure they’ll definitely be lessening CC’s opportunities to get real deep pitch counts this year until much later in the season. I.e. not 122 pitches in his 3rd start.

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    This is why I was critical of Girardi’s handling of CC last year. He knows the players and their abilities better than I do, but from the outside, leaving CC in some games early last year seemed like a mistake.

    Then again, CC is more like a pitcher from the 50s-60s than the modern era. If I were to bet on anyone holding up under a load like this, CC would be the guy.

    • Bo

      Girardi was so bad with CC last yr that he only got stronger in October.

      Theres a lot Girardi does wrong. Managing workloads isnt one of them

  • dudes

    This is also why a 6-man rotation at least to start the year isn’t all that crazy. While generally, you do not want to take away starts from your top 3-4 pitchers, their extended workload in the year previous is some cause for concern.

    • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

      It would lessen the workload, but I’m more comfortable with all of them getting regular work rather than have them go 8 days between a start.

    • Bo

      6 man rotations are crazy. You want your better pitchers pitching more and you want them on a set routine.

  • H.W. Plainview

    Sheilds did decline, but very minimally. Identical xFIPs (3.92) in 2008 and 2009 and only an increase in FIP of 0.20. He’s also keeping up his workload, pitching in the same workhorse company as Sabathia, Halladay and Haren. So while decline is definitely possible, I’ll sign up for a Shields-like decline in production from C.C. after last year if necessary.

  • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

    CC threw a lot of innings sure but I think he threw the 3rd or 4th most pitches in the majors. Excluding the playoffs I think. Even with the playoffs I don’t think CC is at a point where he’s a huge risk considering that other pitchers pitched the same amount of pitches too.

    I’m not worried at all.

  • CS Yankee

    When CC started slow in 2009 (think warming pad & all)…some questioned his 2008 workload

    When CC was hammered by Tampa when going for win 20 during the final days of season…some questioned his postseason chances

    I’d rather extend him all the respect and know that stat wise he is likely to slip some (maybe not be top 5 in MLB regular season stats) during the season but know that “big dogs like to be fed”

    The great power pitchers get stronger as the game gets longer…CC is one of those even if he slips out of the Cy race, don’t doubt the race for the crown.

  • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

    NYaT provided a good look at other pitchers who fit the innings leader qualification but didn’t regress like Randall’s samples: http://www.nyat.net/2010/03/why-yankees-and-sabathia-shouldnt.html

    I think the Yankees are aware of the worload CC (and A.J. and Andy) shouldered and that’s exactly why they got Javy instead of asking them to again take on so many innings while Joba and Phil worked fewer in the rotation.

  • pete

    Am I worried about CC’s workload, along with other factors, affecting either his performance or his health (or both) in 2010? Yes. I am also worried about the health and/or performance of the following players in 2010: AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Zach McAllister, Manny Banuelos, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Mariano Rivera, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Jeremy Bleich, Damaso Marte, Ivan Nova, Romulo Sanchez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Marcus Thames, Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Slade Heathcott, JR Murphy, and Jesus Montero.

    If you look closely at each of those guys, you’ll realize that on the “worried spectrum”, CC is probably middle of the pack at the worst, close to the “less worried” side at best.

    • Mike HC

      damn. you must be a nervous wreck

    • CS Yankee

      Don’t worry about Thames though, as he will likely be playing golf by next month

    • Bo

      thanks for that

      relax a little

    • pete

      re: Mike HC’s and Bo’s comment: it was a joke…as in, “CC is an injury concern, but no more so than most baseball players. He has had more of a workload, but has also proven himself to have a more durable body, than most players, thus I consider his risk factor to be about average”

      • Mike HC

        yea, my comment was also a joke.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    I don’t totally agree with JobaWokeeZ’s post above — I believe there should at least be some reason to worry — but I agree that the amount of innings pitched isn’t necessarily the most telling stat.

    An inning where the pitcher throws 8 pitches is vastly different than one in which he threw 30. Yet, it’s still an inning.

    Seems to me pitch counts are a better way of measuring workload, even though it too has its flaws.

  • YankeesJunkie

    CC did throw a lot last spring, but the Yankees did a real nice job in giving him extra days off in September. As long at the Yankees don’t push any of their starters too hard in April then they should be fine. Luckily, they will have two pitchers that can easily go three innings in Gaudin and Aceves and possibly Mitre.