When we last saw CC Sabathia in action prior to Thursday’s Opening Day start (and subsequent Yankee win), he was busy gutting his way through a six-inning, two-run performance against the Rangers in Game 5 of the 2010 ALCS to keep the Yankees’ season alive.
Interestingly, Thursday’s start was actually not all that dissimilar from that ALCS Game 5 performance — in both outings he went six innings and gave up two earned runs, and, if you take a look at the chart in the aforelinked post and compare it to the table below, his average velocity and H- and V-breaks on all five of his pitches in Thursday afternoon’s game were actually pretty close to the numbers he registered in that last October start.
CCs best pitch on Thursday was his sinker, which he used about a quarter of the time and registered -2.02 linear weights for (for those that need a refresher, negative linear weights for a pitcher’s pitches are a good thing — the more negative, the better). His change was his least effective pitch, though he only went to it about 10% of the time.
Unsurprisingly, his two highest-pitch innings were his least effective, but on the whole those are some solid linear weight tallies on an individual inning basis. Sabathia probably could’ve gone back out for the seventh, but why on earth do that in the first game of the season unless you absolutely have to?
Below are CC’s average pitch breaks for the entire 2010 season, courtesy of JoeLefkowitz.com:
On Opening Day he threw his fastball further inside (to lefties) and finished more than two inches higher on average than he did in 2010. He also threw his sinker nearly two inches further inside (again, to lefties) and the pitch finished more than four inches higher on average than it did last season. Given Sabathia’s success with the pitch on Thursday, I wonder if we’ll be seeing more extreme movement on the pitch in 2011. The change also broke further inside and higher. The slider had slightly less horizontal break on righties than his average 2010 slider did, and, like all his other pitches, broke higher than last season. And his curve on Thursday was further inside to righties than on average last season, but broke a good deal less (-0.78 V-break compared to -3.35).
So Sabathia finished all his pitches higher than usual except for his curve — given that this was his first outing of the season, this is not terribly surprising.
Here’s Sabathia’s strikezone plot, also courtesy of Brooks:
Nothing too outrageous here; looks like Sabath received just one gift strike call, though he may have missed out on a few low called strikes.
All in all, a typically strong performance from the big man, and I’ll be looking forward to him building on this and getting even better as the season progresses.