CC Sabathia had another mediocre performance in the Yankees loss to the Blue Jays last night. CC has been a decidedly ordinary pitcher lately, and the Yankees cannot afford for him to be just that. The Yankees need CC to get back to his ace form. If he doesn’t they will have virtually no chance of defeating the Rangers or Tigers in a first round of a playoff series.
It might be unfair, but there is more pressure on CC than any another other pitcher in baseball. Without a great CC, the Yankees starting rotation goes from below mediocre to terrible. For most of this season, many would have said a CC pitched game was a lock for a Yankee win. That is not the case recently. Right now he is not Justin Verlander. He is not even CJ Wilson. He needs to be them and even pitch better than them in order to carry the Yankees rotation to a 28th World Series title.
Is CC wearing down? He is a large man, but I do not think that is the case. He has never had a track record of wearing down late in the season. We saw him when with Milwaukee pitch on 3 days rest on a regular basis and carry them to the playoffs. A year later we saw him do the same for the Yankees in the playoffs, helping to lead them to a World Series title.
Could the pressure of having to carry the poor Yankee rotation be affecting him? I doubt that. Like I said before, he has carried pitching staffs before in his career and not shown any ill effects. Maybe he is hanging around with AJ Burnett too much, and his awfulness has worn off.
But in all seriousness, what is the problem?
My guess would be he is just in a slump. It happens to everyone not named Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander. Unfortunately, for the Yankees it is happening in the second half of the season and they need him to be in top form in the playoffs or else they have no chance.
CC has had a terrific season. He is 19-8 with a 3.01 ERA and 224 strike outs. However, it was not long ago when was 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. That was on August 1, and since then he has not been the same pitcher. It all began in Boston when he was rocked for 7 runs and 9 hits in 6 innings. That performance was followed up by allowing 5 home runs to the Rays.
His August numbers in general were way below CC-like. He was 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA. More concerning would be it was the only month of the season where he allowed more hits than innings pitched (56 hits in 42.1 IP). Additionally, he only allowed 6 home runs the first 4 months of the season, but 9 in August. Maybe the theory of AJ rubbing off on him is the cause because we all know just how awful AJ is in August.
September has been a little better for CC, but he is not at the dominant level which he was at pre-August. At that time, Yankee fans thought they could lock up two wins in his two first round series starts. They can no longer do that. If the playoffs started today, the Yankees would play Texas. We saw what Texas did to them last year in the post season. CC is not pitching well enough right now to beat the Rangers line up twice.
Who else can a Yankee trust to pitch well against that powerful line up? I know Nova has pitched well, and Colon and Garcia have been outstanding surprises, there is no possible way any sensible Yankee fan can have confidence in them pitching well in the post season. AJ Burnett? Forget about it. It all comes down to CC, and he better get his act straight because if he does not, it will be an extremely short lived playoff run for the Yankees.
By Rob Bonanni