Checking in on CC Sabathia’s workload


(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Now two and a half years into his seven three-year contract, it’s pretty safe to say that CC Sabathia has been everything the Yankees hoped he would be when he came to New York, if not more. He’s been the bonafide, no doubt about it, dominant number one starter the team hadn’t had since Mike Mussina was in his heyday (2001-2003 or so), plus he’s reportedly great in the clubhouse and in the community. There’s nothing not to like.

Sabathia has also been a workhorse of the first order, topping 230 IP in each of his first two season in pinstripes. That’s nothing new for him, the last time CC fell short of the 230 IP plateau in a season was 2006. He hasn’t thrown fewer than 195 IP in a season since 2004, or fewer than 180 IP ever. There’s no doubt about it, the guy hasn’t met an inning he won’t eat. Sabathia has thrown 145.2 IP in his 20 starts this year, so let’s compare that workload to the last few years…

Obviously, he’s ahead of the pace he’s set the last few seasons by quite a bit, anywhere from five to ten innings. Assuming he gets to 34 starts again, Sabathia is on pace to throw 247.2 IP this season, his most in three years and second most ever. That’s a bit of a concern because the Yankees don’t plan on seeing their season end in late-September, they’re hoping for a deep playoff run in which Sabathia throws another 40 innings or so in the postseason. That’s quite a bit. Of course, not all innings are created equal, so let’s look at the number of pitches he’s thrown…

Again, CC is ahead of the pace he’s set the last few years. Extrapolated out to 34 starts, Sabathia is on pace to throw 3,679 pitches in 2011, his second most ever. Just six pitchers (including 2008 Sabathia) have thrown that many pitches in a single season over the last five years (Livan Hernandez, Justin Verlander, and Barry Zito have each done it twice). I have no doubt that CC could physically throw all those pitches if needed, but that doesn’t mean I (or the team) want him too.

The Yankees had the luxury of taking their foot off the gas with all their starters in 2009 because of their huge division and wildcard lead; each of Sabathia’s last four starts that year were on at least six days of rest. They really couldn’t do that last year and there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be able to this year. That’s why the bullpen, and Rafael Soriano in particular, are going to be important down the stretch. They have to lighten the load on the starters, giving Joe Girardi a viable alternative to Sabathia at 100+ pitches in the seventh or eighth inning. The Yankees are very clearly in win now mode, but part of winning now is giving their top starter a little bit of a breather here and there so he’s 100% ready to go in late-September and October.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Sweet Dick Willie says:

    the guy hasn’t met an inning he won’t eat.

    From the looks of things, it appears those innings contain an awful lot of calories.

  2. Brian in NH says:

    I worry about that surgically repaired miniscus with his big frame down the stretch, but i’m pretty confident the guy will be fine. Maybe Bartolo can loan him some stem cells

  3. ADam says:

    Easily the most valuable Yankee the past 3 seasons, who would be the second, Mo?, Tex?, Alex?

  4. Guest says:

    What will it take to re-sign him? The innings he’s thrown to this point in his career don’t worry me. He is clearly a freak, like Mo.

    Would 6/150 get it done so we could all just call it a day?
    Also, of current starters who has a better shot at being a hall of famer?

    Halladay, and…? I think that’s it.

    Ton of great pitching in baseball, and most of it is young. Things happen (see Gooden, Doc). But CC has been a great, dominant pitcher for a long time–he’s not starting a great career…he’s already hAD a great career. And he’s only 30 and shows absolutlely no signs of stopping soon. Plus, he’s a pitchability lefty who figures to “declilne gracefully” after he loses something on the fastball.

    • MannyGeee says:

      tack on 2 years at the same money ‘should’ get it done. He’s not Jeter greedy, after all

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        Wouldn’t be surprised to see him get bumped up to 6/150.

      • Doug says:

        no way in the world can you give him 8/200. not with all that mileage on his arm.

        not sure i would give him 6/150 actually

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          Always risky to give 6/150 to any pitcher, but I’d rather do that than give a CJ Wilson 5/80. CC just has a much better proven track record and at least he won’t be hitting 40 at the end of the contract so the chances that he completely tanks are slightly less.

        • MannyGeee says:

          I was thinking more like 6/140 or so, just adding 2 years to the 4 he has remaining… still heavy (no puns intended), but he can earn most of that.

    • Jerome S. says:

      I want Sabathia to finish his career as a Yankee. He won’t always be this good, but with what he’ll do in his upcoming contract… he won’t be able to leave.

      It’d be like Babe Ruth leaving! That didn’t happen, did it?

    • Mike HC says:

      My take, is that if CC wants to be a Yankee, he will be able to easily get something done that he would be happy with. Maybe another player option after three years or tacking on extra years on the end, or something like that. Or he just declines the option, which seems unlikely at this point, but you never know.

      But if he wants to get the most money possible, or has an itch to move back to the west coast, then all bets are off. It will be interesting either way.

  5. YankeesJunkie says:

    While CC has more innings and P/GS I am not really concerned with the workload at all. He has not been pushed to any extreme pitch count thus far and also has always gone on four or five days rest. In addition, due to the lower run environment his outings have definitely been less stressful compared to the previous two years.

  6. Gonzo says:

    Everyone keeps talking about CC being indestructible or headed for injury.

    What do you guys think is a good historical comp for him considering his size, workload, handedness, stuff and anything else you can think of?

    • Gonzo says:

      Or is there a good comp?

    • Mike HC says:

      A guy like David Wells would be a comp size and handed wise.

      Wells, from the age of 33-42, pitched more than 30 starts in all but one of those seasons. Of course it is not a perfect example, but just shows that a big, fat lefty can pitch well, deep into his 30′s. At the very least, it would not be unprecedented.

      And I’m sure there are other comps other. Wells is just off the top of my head.

      • Gonzo says:

        So just stay away from freak back injuries in the World Series.

        • Mike HC says:

          For the sake of not having to be shot in the back with cortisone before a good amount of your starts, I would say, yes, best to stay away from serious back injuries.

  7. Filppula51 says:

    I’d give him a 7/175.

  8. Filppula51 says:

    Well you don’t want him in a redsox uni ya moron

  9. Filppula51 says:

    Well you don’t want him in a redsox uni ya moron.

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