Sabathia’s Struggles Due To Control, Not Velocity

The results of yesterday’s start by CC Sabathia weren’t great, but the left-hander didn’t look as bad as the box score indicates. He gave up 8 hits, 4 walks, 4 earned runs, 5 strike outs in 5.0 innings. Allowing 12 men on is not a good way to show the fans that you’ve recovered from elbow surgery. Half of these eight hits came off ground balls, and half of these came off infield singles. If Jayson Nix had held on to a line drive in the 2nd inning, Sabathia might not have given up any of the 4 runs in that inning.

While the amount of groundballs going for hits were unlucky, he also struggled to locate his pitches. His fastball and slider were wild, and without that, he was forced to live off his changeup. The walks are inexcusable, but for what’s only his third start of the year, there was bound to be an issue somewhere. Yet since Sabathia is coming off his surgery, and his velocity looked like it was down, there was a subsequent panic over the Yankees’ ace.

chart (4)

Early in the game, Sabathia hardly touched 90 mph. That was the spark that led to much of the velocity concern. Around 25 pitches in, Sabathia was throwing around 90-91 with the four-seam fastball, and his sinker remained around 1 mph slow. Note that some of the slower sinkers were misclassified as changeups.

Pitch Type Velocity Horizontal Vertical
FF 89.9 3.75 10.09
FF(2012) 92.4 4.07 8.89
CH 85.0 7.53 6.99
CH(2012) 85.9 8.19 6.58
SL 80.4 -2.34 0.71
SL(2012) 80.8 -2.39 0.02
SI 89.5 9.79 7.86
SI(2012) 91.9 9.41 7.02
CU 75.0 -3.12 0.55
CU(2012) 76.5 -3.15 -0.48

Indeed, he lacked around 2.5 mph on both his four-seam and sinker on Monday. It would be hard to call these pitches flat though, and in fact the movement on his four-seam was considerably stronger than 2012. If Sabathia were suffering from an elbow problem, he’d probably be putting less spin on the pitches, and we’d be seeing a drop off in movement. But he averaged around an inch more vertical movement on his four-seam, sinker, and slider. All three of these pitches posed a control problem to Sabathia yesterday, so it’s possible that the additional movement and wildness were somehow connected. I suspect that there was just a mechanical issue in repeating his delivery, causing him to over spin and in some cases change the spin angle of his pitches.

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Opening Day provides clues on approaching Cano

Little, if anything, on Opening Day is predictive. The Astros probably aren’t going to beat the Rangers many more times this year and I don’t think there are going to be many innings when CC Sabathia coughs up four runs at a time. To break my own rule, though, there are things that may give us a bit of an indication as to how something will unfold over the course of the season. In the case I’m about to present, it has much more to do with process than it does with results.

As time has passed and the other big name players on the Yankees have waned in terms of talent or health–think Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira–and with Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson injured to start the season, Robinson Cano is, even more obviously (if possible) the focal point of the offense. And even though there are (semi) brand names backing him up–Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and Vernon Wells–they’re not shining like they used to. To wrap this all up succinctly, it’s not a stretch to say that for the first part of the season, Robbie isn’t going to get many pitches to hit.
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Opening Day Observations From A First-Time 2013 Yankee Viewer

CC Sabathia

For those of you who don’t know, I live and work out in Wisconsin, where a combination of geographic location, available regional TV selections, and lack of money/motivation to pay for an subscription leaves me without access to the YES Network and the bulk of the televised Yankee games.  For those of you who do know from reading AB4AR, you’re probably tired of hearing that excuse but whatever.  A nationally televised Yankee game is always like an early birthday present for me, and yesterday’s broadcast on ESPN gave me my first chance to actually SEE this year’s version of the Yankees play.  It’s one thing to analyze and comment on the goings on of the club based on secondhand information like scouting reports and FanGraphs stats; it’s another to actually watch players in action and evaluate their performance based on what you see.  I jotted more than a few notes down while watching yesterday’s home opener.  Here are some of my observations.

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Yankees Lose First Home Opener Since 1982

AP Photo

When Joe Girardi‘s lineup card hit Twitter, I though it may have been an April Fool’s joke, but I was wrong.

Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco Cervelli C

After months of asking what the Yankees were going to do to remedy their problems, the opening day roster was about as awe-inspiring as we all expected. Eduardo Nunez batted second, Vernon Wells fifth, Ben Francisco was your DH, and Jayson Nix was at third base instead of a glue factory. But with Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, and the rest of the gang on the field for CC Sabathia, the Yankees might not need much offense. There’s no doubt that this was Girardi’s plan, defense-first and start all your scrappy right-handed hitters against Jon Lester.

The Yankees may have lost a considerable amount of home runs since 2012, but at least they still have pitching and defense. At least that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves. On paper, the Yankees have one of the strongest rotations and bullpens in baseball, but you wouldn’t think that if you watched today’s game. Sabathia struggled to locate his pitches, while the defense looked like the latest editions of Volkswagen commercials.

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It’s finally here! Game 1: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

Baseball has an unfair advantage over every other sport. The games start when the weather turns warm. For those of us who live in the New York area, this past weekend was the first in a long time that had even a glimmer of warmer weather. It may be a coincidence that the temperatures broke into the high 50s without a cloud in the sky the same weekend as opening day, but it doesn’t feel like it. Baseball is a summertime game and part of the joy of the start of the season is the knowledge that the summertime is coming.

Game one of the season is today at 1pm. The Boston Red Sox will come into the Bronx for the season opener. Once upon a time this would be the start of a 162 game struggle between these two franchises as they battled for first place in the AL East, and possibly the American League. This year things are different. This year ESPN has predicted that these two teams will finish in last place in the AL East, and miss the playoffs. Maybe, but predictions are what sports fans make when games aren’t being played. After today only one thing matters: a team’s record.

CC Sabathia toes the rubber for the Yankees. Last season was CC’s worst in a Yankee uniform (and he was still pretty good), but only because of nagging injuries. His rate stats were as good as they’ve ever been. CC can be a slow starter, so we may not get a vintage performance today, but the Yankees are fighting with their best. Boston will counter with Jon Lester. Lester is looking to bounce back from a legitimately bad season in 2012. His K/9 rate has fallen from a high 9.96 in 2009 all the way down to 7.28 last year. As his strikeouts have gone down his homers have risen, to a career high of 1.10 per nine innings. One game won’t make a season for either of these Aces, but it’s fun to pretend. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy! Continue reading It’s finally here! Game 1: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The 2013 Autism Awareness Challenge

Over the years here at IIATMS, I’ve used what little platform I’ve got here to bring awareness to Breast Cancer (my wife works with breast cancer patients daily) as well as Autism (something that afflicts my awesome nephew). April marks the beginning of Autism Awareness Month and one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know, at least in a virtual sense, is Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball. Maury’s son also suffers from Autism and Maury has his kickoff posting here today, and it’s something I request that you go and read.


At the very least, read his posting and get educated. Maybe not for you, but for a loved one. Share this on Facebook and Twitter and any other place you thing others will read. It’s that important.

Thank you,
Jason and the entire IIATMS/TYA team

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Youkilis’ Power Potential Key To Yankees’ Early-Season Success

Despite being the most significant non-returning player signing of the offseason, the Yankees didn’t bring Kevin Youkilis in with high expectations.  His eroding offensive skills and 1-year deal pointed to him being nothing more than a plug-in at third base, a regressing, broken down former All Star brought in to temporarily replace the regressing, broken down former All Star the Yankees already had at third in A-Rod. As the everyday third baseman for the first half of the season, the Yanks would probably hit Youkilis 6th or 7th against right-handed pitchers, 2nd against lefties, and through a combination of walks and the occasional HR here and there get enough production out of him to help keep the offense going until A-Rod returned in July.

That plan quickly fell apart with the injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, and got thrown further out of whack with the recovery setback to Derek Jeter‘s ankle.  Youkilis now finds himself as the #1 right-handed bat in the lineup and arguably the second-biggest power/run-producing threat in the middle of the Yankee batting order.  For at least the first month of the regular season, the Yankees are no longer looking at Youkilis as a cog on the offensive wheel; they need him to be one of the pedalers that keeps the wheel moving.  Youkilis had a very good and surprisingly powerful Spring Training.  How well he manages to keep that performance up on an everyday basis could be a major determining factor in the Yankees’ ability to keep the ship afloat while their walking wounded recover.

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