The Best He’s Ever Been

Sabathia brilliant as Yanks hand M's 17th straight loss
Trade market heating up with Jimenez, Danks, Nolasco talk
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

CC Sabathia was almost perfect last night. Mother Nature tried her hardest to throw him off track with a pair of short but just long enough rain delays in the later innings of his outing against the Mariners, perhaps robbing him of just enough command and rhythm that it cost him the perfect game. Sabathia ended his night with a career-high 14 strikeouts in seven innings, allowing a total of two balls to leave the infield. He was dominant, completely overpowering a weak lineup, but this was not a one-start thing.

Sabathia has been the best pitcher in the world over the last month or so, a span covering seven starts. He’s thrown 54.2 of 63 possible innings (86.8%) and allowed just five runs. Five. Only 46 batters have reached base in that time (0.84 WHIP), and only 31 of those 46 batters reached via a base hit. CC has struck out 72 batters in that span, raising his season strikeout rate from 6.6 K/9 to 8.3 K/9 in just seven starts. That’s 46.1% of his season strikeout total in 32.4% of the innings. Sabathia’s been so good these last seven starts that we can legitimately ask this question: has he ever had a seven-start stretch like this before?

The best season of Sabathia’s career was 2008, when he combined to rack up 7.1 bWAR and 7.6 fWAR in a career-high 253 IP with the Indians and Brewers. His second half effort with the Brewers is the stuff of legend, when he practically carried the franchise to their first playoff appearance in a quarter-century. Sabathia made 17 starts with Milwaukee, including the final three on three days rest. He managed to accumulate 4.8 bWAR and 4.6 fWAR with the Brewers, which is a great season for most pitchers. He did that in 130.2 IP.

The best seven-start stretch during Sabathia’s time with Milwaukee came from August 8th to September 5th, when he threw three complete games and two shutouts in seven starts. The table on the right has the stats from CC’s last seven starts this year as well as the stats for that seven-start stretch with the Brew Crew back in 2008. I used Sky Kalkman’s WAR Calculator to calculate the WAR, which is pretty close to bWAR. It uses actual results in the calculation (runs allowed), not underlying performance (FIP) like fWAR. It tells us what did happen, not what should have happened.

As you can see, the run Sabathia is on right now is even better than what he did in Milwaukee three years ago. He recorded two fewer outs but struck out a dozen more batters and allowed 14 fewer hits and one fewer homer. Those seven starts in 2008 came against the Braves, Nationals, Astros, Padres (twice), and Pirates (twice), who combined for a .421 winning percentage that season. These seven starts this year have come against the Rockies, Brewers, Indians, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Rays (twice). That’s a combined winning percentage of .496. He’s performed better against better competition.

It’s hard to believe considering how dominant he was during his brief stint in Milwaukee, but Sabathia’s last seven starts have been better than anything he’s done before. He’s piling up strikeouts and keeping opponents off base via hits and walks. No one is scoring off him, not at all, and he’s taking the ball deep into the game every time out. We see hot streaks come and go all season long, but it’s not often that we see one of the game’s best go off a run better than anything they’ve ever done before. This is the pitching equivalent of 2007 Alex Rodriguez, the starting version of 2008 Mariano Rivera. That’s how good Sabathia has been for the last month.

Sabathia brilliant as Yanks hand M's 17th straight loss
Trade market heating up with Jimenez, Danks, Nolasco talk
  • Yank The Frank

    The beauty of CC is that he keeps getting better as the season goes on. Beware The Beast!

  • Chelo

    Pitching like a man ready to cash in this off season. But CC is worth every penny. My guess is gets another 3 years at 60 mill or so added to his contract….I am actually cool with that.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      Make it 3 and 75 mil. I’m still cool with that.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Cliff Lee got a 5/120 (24.0 AAV) with a vesting option that makes it a 6/135 (22.5 AAV) from the Phillies, and he was hitting free agency a year older than CC will be after this optout.

        I bet they rip up the 4/92 (23.0 AAV) remaining on the original contract and he gets a new 6/144 (24.0 AAV) minimum.

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          That sounds about right. I’m down with that too.

          • Preston

            Knowing how these kinds of negotiations have gone for the Yanks 7/170 is probably where it ends up. I don’t really want to pay that much for that long but if we can afford to pay Soriano what we’re paying him I’m fine with over paying CC.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I’m feeling good, I’m having fun
    This is the best night of my life
    Girl, can I be real? I just wanna feel
    On your booty, that’s not a big deal

    • Buck

      Stay on topic, please. Save this nonsense for the open thread.

      • buckfunts


  • Simon

    Is it fair to say that CC has been one of the best free-agent signings in a very long time? I would think so.

    • Complainer

      It’s really too early in Rafael Soriano’s contract to make a fair comparison. (/sarcasm)

  • Hester Prynne

    And as I mentioned in the other thread, CC is the Cy Young, period end of story. He leads all AL pitchers in WAR. If it wasn’t for the rain delay the perfect game and Yankee strikeout record were going to happen. Shame, would have been nice to see.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      And as I mentioned in the other thread, CC is first in fWAR but only tied for third in bWAR. It’s not as simplistic as you’re portraying it.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      He gets my vote, but it’s certainly not a landslide. Weaver and Verlander are putting up some beastly numbers too.

      • CP

        Weaver pitches in AAA, so I don’t think he counts.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Meh, all three of them have schedule strength/degree of difficulty nitpicks you can make about them.

          Weaver gets to feast on the lowly Mariners and A’s; Sabathia has feasted on Baltimore and Tampa Bay while struggling against the good offenses of Boston and Texas; Verlander’s faced weak Mets/Twins/Royals/White Sox lineups.

          They all largely cancel each other out, IMHO.

          • CP

            From ESPN:

            Entering Tuesday’s game, Sabathia’s opponents’ OPS was .753, Verlander’s .737 and Weaver’s .728.

            For Weaver, that’s like facing Baltimore every game, for Verlander it’s like facing Toronto every day, and for CC it’s like facing a team between the Tigers and Yankees.

            It does make a difference. Maybe not enough in your mind, but I think it’s a big deal.

            Also, not captured in these numbers, Weaver pitches in some very good pitchers parks (Seattle and LA are the second and third best pitcher parks in the AL this year).

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              But you have to balance the fact that CC’s faced slightly tougher competition against the fact that Verlander and Weaver have been slightly more effective against that weaker competition.

              Meaning they’re all probably tied for all intents and purposes.

              • CP

                Except that they really haven’t been slightly more effective. CC has the lowest FIP of the group (and the lowest in the AL).

                • YanksFan in MA

                  In the same way that you can’t just look at fWAR and call it a day, you can’t just look at FIP. Do we dock Mariano because his ERA is better than his FIP every year? With guys this close, there is an argument to be made for all of them. Really just comes down to personal taste. Of course, each of them have probably 11-12 more starts to separate themselves.

          • first time lawng time

            while struggling against the good offenses of Boston and Texas;

            While that is true, keep in mind that those performances came earlier in the season, and CC pretty much always pitches better as the season goes on.

            Also, CC has to pitch in a notorious hitter’s park. Verlander pitches in Comerica.

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      Jered Weaver has a bone to pick with you.

    • Mike HC

      I agree that it has got to be CC. But I live in a Yankee Centric universe. Weaver might as well be pitching in Japan as far as I’m concerned.

  • Bronx Byte

    C.C. has said several times that he loves pitching in hot weather and he keeps on proving it.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Oh come on. The Mariners suck. They can’t beat anybody. CC is awesome but let’s not go crazy over last night. Watch Phil match zeros with Felix today.

    We are winning today too.

    • Mister Delaware

      You think Felix is going to throw up a string of zeros?

      (See what I did?)

    • Complainer

      I confess that I’m secretly glad he didn’t get the perfect game. It would’ve been hard to feel good about a feat accomplished against what is essentially a little league team right now.

      Give me a perfect game against a good team. In the playoffs. In the World Series clinching game. I’ll accept nothing less.

      Okay, maybe a little less.

      • Hester Prynne

        A perfect game is a perfect game no matter who it is against. Does Coney’s mean less because it was against the defunt Expos? It’s incredibly hard to do against anyone and would have been a great feat.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Cool story, bro.

        • jsbrendog

          woo woo woo, you know it bro

      • Mike HC

        Those are some ridiculously high standards you got there, ha. Tough to impress you.

        • Complainer

          I’ll resist the urge to start the age-old debate of what’s a true perfect game: 27 straight 3-pitch strikeouts, or 27 straight 1-pitch ground/flyouts?

          •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

            Kevin Brown?… Is that you?

      • Will (the other one)

        Your nickname is aptly chosen.

    • Mickey Scheister

      I’m hoping so, I picked three Yanks on my pick-six team in the effort of positive visualization.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    His second half effort with the Brewers is the stuff of legend, when he practically carried the franchise to their first playoff appearance in a quarter-century. Sabathia made 17 starts with Milwaukee, including the final three on three days rest. He managed to accumulate 4.8 bWAR and 4.6 fWAR with the Brewers, which is a great season for most pitchers. He did that in 130.2 IP.

    FACT: Pinstripes make fat pitchers pitch better.

    • Crime Dog

      Tell that to Chris Britton. Or Brian Bruney (pre weight loss… and post weight loss)

  • Mickey Scheister

    CC, power up, behold…Beast Mode!!! If he does this good in hot weather maybe he listens to Texas and perhaps the Marlins in the off-season, and of course So-Cal. I wonder if the Yankee brass will finally stop giving these ridiculous opt-out clauses. After what year will CC’s NEW opt out clause be, I’m guessing three again.

    • Mike HC

      CC is the franchise, and because he is not homegrown, does not really have an inherent loyalty to being a Yankee. If the guy wants an opt out, make sure he gets that fucking opt out.

      • Mickey Scheister

        After I hit submit, it dawned on me that Texas gave A-Rod his opt-out. CC’s reasoning was, in case he didn’t like NY, well three years in, he should know that by now.

        • Mike HC

          I have mentioned this before too. CC said that opt was only if he didn’t like NY. Taking the opt out now just to get more out of the Yanks will be a bit disingenuous from his earlier comments about the opt out.

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      I think after all we do need a dome/roof. CC would have pitched a perfect game last night and during the playoffs, we can close the roof and heat up the stadium to 90 so cc can continue in beast mode. we just have to hope that we play alot of teams in california, florida, texas, arizona, etc when cc is on the mound away from ys

      • Mickey Scheister

        This. Turn the F-in heat on, and leave it on. Somewhere CC is laughing at Halladay. Heat exhaustion? HA! CC must wear a thermal shirt insulated with plastic wrap moving forward.

      • jsbrendog

        this isn’t serious, right?

        • Bartolo’s Colon

          yes, very serious. i say we acquire toronto’s retractable roof for nunez, nova, and jorge vazquez.

          • Cris Pengiuci

            That might be a bit high for some on here. Take Nunez out (maybe replae him with Laird) and get it done!

      • first time lawng time

        Baeball stadiums should NEVER have domes (with the exception of places like Arizona where it’s 100+ daily).

        1. It’s hideous
        2. I personally like being at a ball game when it’s nice and hot. That’s summer. Baseball is a summer activity. Being locked up in a dome…how is that fun? Most cities, it doesn’t rain most of the time. So ifbit does, not a big deal.

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          I agree. It irritates me even while watching a game on TV in a dome.

          •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

            Ok, that was poorly composed. Watching games being played in a dome can be irritating while watching on TV.

  • Mickey Scheister

    I’m on vacation in St. Thomas and I had one ear-bud in listening to the radio feed, and when it got to the 5th inning, I rushed back to my room, purchased the MLB video package for the iPhone, just in case CC did hurl history. Still worth it, CC made the M’s look silly. All the what-ifs and what could’ve beens, CC is not a man, he is a thundercat.

  • a.hinds

    how much credit does rosthchild get for this? i remember reading a post saying his staffs strike out more hitters

    and also, he is not throwing as hard as he was, about 3 weeks ago, he’s no longer hitting 98, 97 not that it matters but i find it odd.

    i think this run is about his slider, they have no chance against it, could he have found something new? batters are taking randy johnson swings at that thing and ive never seen that before with cc

    • Mike HC

      He was throwing 97 last night even after coming back out after the rain delays.

    • Sayid J.

      I don’t think Rothschild gets credit for anything CC is doing right now. CC has always be capable of this, before Rothschild was around. The increase in strikeouts is just CC on a roll, doesn’t seem like he’s made any adjustments.

  • Pat D

    So can anyone tell me again why there’s such a difference here:

    Sabathia: 5.6 fWAR / 4.8 bWAR
    Weaver: 5.1 fWAR / 6.0 bWAR
    Verlander: 5.1 fWAR / 5.8 bWAR

    What component is it that counts for the big discrepancy?

    • Oeld

      bWAR doesn’t care about black people.

  • Xstar7

    Last night’s effort propelled CC to third in the MLB in strikeouts, ahead of marquee names like Roy Halladay, King Felix, last years’ strikeout leader Jered Weaver, and Josh Beckett.

  • ledzep2112

    Yes CC’s good… but has he beaten any really strong teams so far? Like Boston, Texas? Just wondering.