Who should start a big game for the Yankees?

Texas Rangers v New York YankeesSince 2009 the answer to the question who should start a big game for the Yankees has had only one answer: CC Sabathia. Since 2009 CC has been dominant in pinstripes, earning his spots in big games. Except this year. Sabathia is essentially putting up his worst season – not as a Yankee, ever. Sabathia has currently put up 2.2 fWAR. His rookie season he managed just 2.8. Right now the big guy projects to come up short of the mark he managed as a rookie.

Given the fact that down the stretch the Yankees are going to play significant baseball, and may very well find themselves in the single game Wild Card playoff, it is worth asking if CC should get the ball in a must win situation. Right now the answer has to be no. Sabathia isn’t the best Yankee pitcher this season. Hiroki Kuroda is. (For what its worth, according to Fangraphs, Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova have also both been better than CC.) In a pinch, on the merits, the Yankees should give the ball to Hiroki, not CC.…

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What’s wrong with CC Sabathia?

Since joining the Yankees in 2009 no member of the team has been more consistent than CC Sabathia. The big guy joined the team and earned his paycheck from day one. Last season was a bit of a hiccup, but that criticism was overblown. Sabathia’s FIP was 3.33 in 2012, better than what he managed in 2009 or 2010. The only real weakness in his season was that the previously durable Sabathia spent time on the disabled list.

2013 has been a different story. Any criticism of CC is justified. His slash line is 4.66/4.26/3.69. That is pretty much his worst season in the big leagues. Entering Sunday’s game he’s posted an fWAR of 1.8, leaving him on pace for about 2.4 for the entire season, also his worst ever. No matter how you slice it, Sabathia is having a down year. Why?

The biggest culprit is that he’s giving up more homers. Prior to this season the most homers per game CC gave up since joining the Yankees was 0.76 in 2010.…

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Game Thread: Sunday, July 14th, Twins vs Yankees

Yesterday’s loss to the Twins was frustrating. Phil Hughes had a solid game going until he gave up the two run homer in the eighth. His pitch count was approaching 110 at that point, raising questions as to why he was in the game at all. That said, the Yankees should have scored more than a single run. They’ll have a better chance to do that in today’s game. The Twins will send Kyle Gibson to the mound. In three games this season Gibson has pitched to a 7.27 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. He’s the kind of punching bag the depressed Yankee offense desperately needs. CC Sabathia will hold down the fort for the Yankees. Sabathia hasn’t been his usual self this year, but he should provide more than enough to keep the Twins at bay. Use this as your Game Thread. Enjoy!

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What’s wrong with CC Sabathia?

ny_g_sabathia_b1_400The Yankees are struggling right now for two reasons. The main reason they’re struggling is because this isn’t the same team that has been on the field the last two seasons. Injuries and age have decimated the Yankee lineup. The players picked up to fill in the gaps (Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner) simply aren’t as good as the players who are missing. But the second reason the Yankees are struggling is because the star players who aren’t hurt are not playing as well as they have in the past. Ichiro Suzuki has an 86 OPS+. Robinson Cano has a .492 SLG. And CC Sabathia has a 4.15 ERA.

The first two examples of struggling stars aren’t huge surprises. That’s who Ichiro was when the Yankees first acquired him. He stepped into the way-back machine for the end of last year. Cano, meanwhile, is prone to struggles. He may yet get hot and finish the season around his career averages.…

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Game Thread: Yankees at Angels, Sunday June 16th

California has not been kind to the Yankees. First Oakland sweeps the team, including a gut wrenching loss in an unofficial double header. Now the Bombers have dropped two in a row to the Angels. This five game losing streak has dropped the Yankees into third place in the AL East behind the Orioles. Not only have the Yankees been losing, but they’ve been losing ugly. Inept offense is no fun to watch. Many are upset that Mark Teixeira just went down with another injury, but he was batting on the interstate anyway. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the Yankees this afternoon, facing off against Jered Weaver. Sabathia has been struggling as well of late. Hopefully he and the Yankees can start to turn things around today. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy! Happy Father’s Day!

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Thursday Morning Musings

Well the Yankees have officially put that bad stretch in the rearview after completing the sweep on Cleveland last night.  As someone who’s a firm believer in the “it really takes 3 to make it a streak” theory, cheers to the new winning streak!  While the team’s catching some shuteye out in Seattle, let’s take a few minutes to just bask in the aura of victory and talk about some random Yankee stuff.

- That 2-run HR stains the ERA a bit, but CC has looked plenty good in his last 2 starts.  19/1 K/BB ratio is always going to get it done and he’s been far less hittable than he was, giving up 13 in 16.1 IP.  The fastball looks livelier, the slider has been great; it looks like the big guy is starting to put things together.

- Did it bother anybody yesterday, or has it bothered anybody at all this season that Joe always seems to ride CC harder than he probably has to?  …

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A Tale of Two CC’s

On Thursday, using PITCHf/x numbers, I wrote about CC Sabathia‘s recent troubles. It looks like his velocity had returned in his start on 5/26, where halfway through the game, Sabathia was sitting between 92 and 93 mph. With the velocity issues solved, but his struggles continuing, I pulled all of his pitches from 2013, and sorted them by pitches put in play and swinging strikes. In the end, the movement on his four-seam fastball had the biggest impact on the results. Sabathia was systematically more successful when his movement decreased, but unfortunately for the southpaw, he was throwing with a ton of vertical and horizontal movement this season. I hypothesized that he may have been too healthy, and that his clean elbow and/or weight loss could be adding spin to his four-seam, and the additional movement was affecting his control and fly ball rates.

After a disaster of a start on 5/26, Sabathia came back to throw an incredible game against the Red Sox.…

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Perhaps Sabathia Is Too Healthy

I’ve been trying to keep everyone up to date with CC Sabathia‘s velocity since the beginning of the season. Ever since his elbow surgery, pitching just hasn’t been the same for the big lefty. A number of reasons could be contributing to his high hit rates of late, and Brad did a great in-depth analysis of just that yesterday.

The good news is that Sabathia is definitely starting to build up arm strength. He’s slowly built his way from a high 80′s four-seam to a low 90′s four-seam in the matter of two months, and in the last 50 pitches against the Rays on Sunday, Sabathia’s fastball was sitting between 92 and 93 mph.

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Sabathia’s four-seam fastball sat at 92.3 mph last year, so this is close to exactly what we saw in 2012. It’s obviously a great sign, but why is he still getting hit around? Could he be getting beat early in games when the velocity is lower?…

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