CC and the HR

Trade rumors start early for the Yanks
Game 59: CC in the rain
Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Tonight CC Sabathia makes his 13th start of the season, and his third against the Baltimore Orioles. Despite facing the league’s worst offense in 1/6 of his starts so far, Sabathia has had a rough go of late. After holding Boston to one run in seven innings on May 18, Sabathia has allowed 14 runs, 13 earned, in his next three starts, which cover 18 innings. None of those numbers look like the CC we watched pitch for the Indians last decade, and who fronted a World Series winning rotation last year. The major difference shows right in his stat line.

We know that CC can take time to warm up. Here’s a quick rundown of his numbers through 12 starts last year compared to 12 starts this year.

IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 H/9
2009 86.0 6.38 2.8 0.6 7.3
2010 78.1 7.00 2.8 1.4 7.8

He has actually struck out batters at a better rate, is around the same with walks, and has allowed just one more hit every 18 innings pitched. Two aspects stand out, one more than the other. First, his home runs rate has more than doubled this year. Second, he has pitched fewer innings, just about 6.5 innings per start compared to over seven per start last year. That’s certainly cause for at least a little concern, but not nearly to the level of his home runs.

Noticing that home runs allowed has been CC’s biggest difference this year is easy. It’s right in any stat sheet you see. He allowed 18 home runs all of last year and has already allowed 12 this year. The hard part is thinking of why this might be. Whatever the answer, it will only cover his starts from May 8 forward. That’s the start in which he surrendered two homers to the Red Sox. He again surrendered two to the Tigers in his next start, then dominated Boston while allowing one home, and then allowed two more against the Mets. He then got beat up, but allowed no homers, against Cleveland, and then allowed two against Baltimore, even though it looked like he was cruising through six.

CC did admit that his mechanics were off for a few starts, but said that they had worked on the issue in the bullpen and that his mechanics, in his own words, “have been pretty good.” That showed last start. Again, it was just just one bad pitch to Jones, and even then it might have been more Jones guessing than a bad pitch by CC. Against Scott there might have been a number of things at play. CC had been struck in the hand by a batted ball earlier in the game, though that appeared to not be serious. He also fell behind 2-0 and tried to get over a high fastball. I’m not sure if he was aiming high, but that seems like a poor selection to a power-hitting lefty, especially at Yankee Stadium.

Tonight we might get a better idea of whether CC is back on track. It’s tough to get a real gauge, because he’s facing the AL’s worst offense. Those guys will naturally score few runs. We can check for other factors, though. For instance, the Orioles are in the middle of the pack in terms of strikeout percentage. If CC strikes out a ton of hitters, it’s probably more reflective of him than the Orioles hitters. The Orioles have the second lowest walk percentage in the AL, so if CC walks three or four it might be cause for concern.

The homer happiness against CC is probably a blip on the radar. He had a couple of stretches last year in which he allowed a few too many homers. For instance, in seven starts from June 6 through July 7 he allowed seven homers. Then, from July 28 through August 13, five starts, he allowed six homers. This year is a bit worse, 10 in seven starts and 12 in his last nine, but given how he looked last time out it might be behind him. We’ll get another look tonight. He’ll get his real test against the Phillies at the Stadium on Tuesday.

Trade rumors start early for the Yanks
Game 59: CC in the rain
  • JGS

    Nitpick on the IP stuff–we are still at the point where a single start can throw off the averages by a lot–say a start in which CC was absolutely dealing before the game got washed out after 6 innings (with him sitting at 73 pitches and nine strikeouts). Say he goes three more innings in that game and it becomes 81.1 innings, or 20.3 outs per game this year as opposed 21.5 last year.

    (average innings per start always seemed a silly way to depict things, because really 6.7 and 7.1 are only slightly more than one out apart)

    • bexarama

      Yeah, he’s had at least two starts cut short by rain (the I think 6 IP game against Texas where he was RIDICULOUS, and the start against Boston at Fenway).

  • Mike HC

    I have no worries about CC whatsoever. I expect him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball by the end of the year and into the playoffs, which is the key. He knows how to get hot at the right times and has proven that throughout his career and last year in particular.

  • Mitch

    Including playoffs last year, CC pitched 266.1 innings. He has never thrown that much before. There just might be a correlation to his inconsistent start this season. Just saying…

  • john doe

    Brandon Laird for Luke Scott- make it happen Cash- give CC some support

    • Total Dominication

      Not that much better than a Miranda/Thames platoon, and it would take mroe than that to get him within the division.

  • ADam

    The Dude just had a bad month, have to leave it at that. Last year (and by no means does past performance correctly predict the future) CC was just about the Best Pitcher in Baseball from June 15 till the end of the season.

    No reason to panic, the big guy hit a mechanical snag but hopefully tonight he builds on his last start again