Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Yankees encouraged by winless Sabathia

The New York Yankees have not won a game in which CC Sabathia has pitched this season, yet the team is probably as excited about three losses as they could be considering what Sabathia has done on the mound thus far.

Of course, it is just three games and we cannot assume that Sabathia’s knee will hold up, but we also cannot ignore the underlying components of Sabathia’s work in his first few turns through the rotation.

He is stronger. He is showing much better control. His velocity, while not at 2009 rates, has been sustained through the game. He has not allowed a ton of hard hit balls. He’s producing many groundballs. He’s getting swing and misses. He is not walking many batters.

On the flip side, Sabathia is having a hard time stranding runners. He’s experiencing a little bit of bad luck. He’s getting very little run support (2.3 per game).

Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers was the third straight step in the right direction where it concerned Sabathia’s performance. As River Ave. Blues’ Mike Axisa describes here, Sabathia was still throwing with the same velocity in his final inning of work as he began the game with. That’s a great sign.

Further, Sabathia held down a Tigers offense that came into the game averaging 5.7 runs per game. He kept the Yankees in a tight game until the seventh inning when a single off the glove of Didi Gregorius and another single into center field drove in the tying and go-ahead runs respectively.

Fans want wins and so does Sabathia. He’s encouraged by the way he has pitched, but he’s discouraged that he doesn’t have a win to show for it.

“I’ve been getting better every time out,” Sabathia said via Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees Blog. “Obviously that’s not equating to wins or helping us.”

For now, fans (and Sabathia) might want to look at the underlying elements of his performance and be happy he’s not the same pitcher who graced the mound from 2013-14. He is looking to be a very capable middle of the rotation arm.

He cannot be expected to regain his 2009 form, but if he can maintain the stamina and control he’s exhibited to this point, he might be more than serviceable. And that is something many believed was impossible when the season began.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly column covering the closer/bullpen situations around Major League Baseball. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.