CC Sabathia has practically been the definition of a work horse in his time with the Yankees. Every year he takes the ball, doesn’t get hurt, and tosses about 235 quality innings.
This year he finally landed himself on the DL, albeit very briefly, and it turns out that it may have been a blessing in disguise as it gave him a short break and may have even brought a little bit of life to his pitches.
“We’ll see. Like I said, I felt really good today,” Sabathia told Vinny Mercogliano of the Journal News. “The rest was better for my arm than my groin.”
Sabathia’s first half was weird. His numbers were in line with his career averages. His K/9 and BB/9 were slightly better than they have been in his career actually. However, the results weren’t coming as easily. He would get into trouble and then have to battle his way out. The results were the same, but his body language wasn’t. Last night, the body language went back to normal and apparently that wasn’t the only thing.
Here is the Yankee Analysts’ Michael Eder with more:
Comparing his pre-DL and post-DL starts above, you’ll see that he’s gained from .5 to a full 1 MPH of additional velocity in both the average speed and maximum speed. The difference in movement is the most exciting change, he’s adding adding 2 inches of additional rising action on both his fastballs, as well as an inch on the slider. The changeup is also matching the movement of the sinker very well, and Sabathia noted the improvements on this pitch in his post game interview.
The biggest change last night was the increase in RPM, and there were quite a few instances where he was hitting the upper 2,000′s in RPM on the fastball. In his previous start against the Mets, the four-seam was only averaging 1,700 RPM, but after his three week break, he was much closer to his average 2,000.
CC is by far the Yankees most important pitcher when it comes to the playoffs. If the results are there during the regular season that’s fine, but he’s clearly been gassed by the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The circumstances of his rest weren’t optimal, but if he’s feeling better and able to get better results with less stress it could be the difference between CC being himself or a mediocre pitcher come October.