Great job by Anthony McCullough doing a point-counterpoint analysis, on CC Sabathia’s fastball speed yesterday -
Here’s a point-counterpoint analysis on Sabathia:
Reason for concern: Sabathia’s fastball topped out at 91.7 mph on Monday, according to Pitch f/x data from Brooks Baseball. On Opening Day in 2012, his fastball hit 94.5 mph. On Opening Day in 2011, his fastball touched 94.7 mph.
Reason for calm: Sabathia understands there’s work to be done. “I’m sure that the velocity will keep coming back, and the arm strength will keep building up the more I throw,” he said.
Reason for concern: Sabathia’s fastball velocity fell to 92.3 mph in 2012, according to FanGraphs. That was a career-low.
Reason for calm: Sabathia still struck out 8.87 batters per nine in 2012, the second-best mark of his career. In other words: His offspeed stuff is nasty enough to compensate for a diminishing fastball.
Reason for concern: Sabathia generated just three swings and misses with his fastball on Monday.
Reason for calm: Sabathia generated 11 whiffs with his changeup.
Reason for calm: Sabathia starts slow. His 4.13 career ERA in April is his worst in any month (September/October is his time: 2.86 ERA).
Reason for concern: Sabathia isn’t always terrible in April.
April 2009: 1-2, 4.73 ERA.
April, 2010: 3-1, 3.12 ERA.
April, 2011: 2-1, 2.25 ERA.
April, 2012: 3-0, 4.58 ERA.
Reason for concern: The Red Sox peppered Sabathia on Monday. They put 12 men on base in just five innings (eight hits, four walks).
Reason for calm: If Sabathia gets a strike call on a 1-2, second-inning slider to Jackie Bradley, Jr., maybe we aren’t fretting about his velocity at all.
It’s still early – and Sabathia barely got any work in this Spring. (In fact, that’s a concern of mine for the entire Yankees starting staff – as it feels like CC, Pettitte and Hughes didn’t start throwing in games until the last week or so. Stress: feels like.) And, as noted above, Sabathia can be an effective pitcher throwing in the low 90′s. Look at Pettitte. He doesn’t throw that hard – but he knows how to pitch and get people out. But, on the bad side, if Sabathia isn’t pitching well, he’s going to have to hear about the drop in velocity until his ears start to bleed.