We can close the books on the month of April for CC Sabathia. CC won’t pitch again until Friday, May 3rd. Numerically, CC’s month wasn’t as strong as it might seem. Sabathia started six games for the Bombers. He pitched 43 innings, just a tad above seven innings a start. CC is always a work horse, and the durability stats are impressive. But his slash line was 3.35/3.90/3.82. He was worth 0.6 fWAR. Given that a pitcher usually starts 33 games, we can infer that over the course of the full season had he maintained his April pace Sabathia would be worth 3.3 fWAR. That’s not bad, but that’s also not CC. That would be his worst faring since 2004.
Fortunately for Yankee fans, Sabathia is unlikely to maintain his current pace. Instead, CC earns his reputation as one of the best pitchers on the planet with the solid runs of eight or nine starts that he consistently puts up in the middle of all his seasons. Odds are this year will be no different. At a certain point, probably in June or July, Sabathia will fire off nine or ten unhittable starts in a row. That’s what he always does.
Sabathia also typically starts off slowly in April. His career April ERA is 4.02 (oddly, his worst month is July, when his career ERA is 4.11). In that respect, his performance this year stands out. Sabathia has gotten off to a stronger start this season than he has averaged throughout his career. The culprit of his April difficulties is his walk rate. In the game’s opening month CC averages 3.08 free passes per nine innings, which is above his career average of 2.69 and well above the 2.4 per nine that he has averaged as a Yankee. This April he’s averaging just 2.09 walks per nine innings, which is no doubt a contributing factor to his stronger than expected start to the season.
Given that Sabathia typically pitches stronger in the warmer months, he may have laid the foundation for a stellar 2013 with his better than expected April. Furthermore, his ability to limit his free passes this early in the season bodes well, not only for the remainder of the year, but also moving forward given the (overblown) concerns about his velocity. Sabathia has gotten off to a solid start. Odds are he’s going to build on it.