Yankees Editorial: CC Sabathia Throws a Simulated Game


The big guy is back. Ryan Hatch of NJ.com reports that C.C. Sabathia tossed his first simulated game of the spring. How did it go? Brendan Kuty’s tweet after Sabathia’s performance says it all:

Carsten Charles picked the hottest day of spring training to make his debut and apparently, the big lefty paid for it. He hurled two innings of baseball, tossing 29 pitches while facing Baby Bomber non roster invitees like Trent Garrison and Cito Culver. His fastball was hitting the upper-80s and topping out at 90. A far cry from the CC of old. 

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This is coming off of a bullpen session he threw just a few days ago where he faced two of the hottest hitters this spring training for the Yankees: Rob Refsnyder and Gregory Bird. Like he did the other day, CC claimed to have been feeling good after both sessions. Girardi said he was looking good as well. I feel like we’ve heard this all before.

At the end of the 2012 season, Sabathia got lit up for five runs in 3.2 innings. It was eventually blamed on elbow soreness which led to bone chips being removed from his elbow before the 2013 season. Heading into 2013, Sabathia said he felt great and went on to have arguably the worst year of his then 13-year career.

It wasn’t that he went 14-13 (his lowest win total since joining the Yanks), it wasn’t simply that his ERA and WHIP were a point higher than any other year that he was in pinstripes. It was the reason behind it: his velocity was down and simply put, CC looked like an old man.

And rightfully so.

Sabathia has a lot of mileage on that left arm of his. People started talking about it back in 2008 when he threw 253 innings with 10 complete games. Skeptics would discuss how CC was shortening his career tossing all this 230-plus inning seasons. I, myself, didn’t want to believe it.

So, when Sabathia said not only that he once again felt great heading into 2014, but was working on new pitches with Andy Pettitte to become a smarter pitcher in his later career, I was all aboard the C.C. train.

I was fooled again. Sabathia didn’t make it to the middle of May. This time a balky knee was to blame. His velocity was still down and he did not look like the $23-million man that the Yankees had made him. So why should we believe him now?

Sabathia is 34-years old. He has thrown nearly 3,000 innings. Look at the history of these hard-throwing 230-plus inning tossing pitchers. Justin Verlander. Roy Halladay. One day they are second to none, and then the next day, like Kaiser Soze, it’s gone. Sabathia can feel great. Sabathia can look good. But until he does it in a game, for more than two innings, I simply don’t believe he is back.

That doesn’t mean Sabathia can’t be useful to the Yankees. I’ve discussed at length how to get the most out of CC. Bury his ego and make him the fifth starter. Or heck, even this sixth starter business we have been hearing so much about this spring. Limit his outings, limit his innings, use that super bullpen to their advantage, and CC could have two more years in him.

The Yankees and their fans simply need to temper their expectations. Sabathia feeling good doesn’t necessarily mean we will get to see the Sabathia of old ever again, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be useful. If the Yankees roll into 2015 truly thinking that C.C. is still a top end rotation type of arm, they will pay the price.

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