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« Clay Buchholz is on the verge | Main | Liriano Thriving Low in the Zone »
Sunday
Jun022013

CC Sabathia's Diminishing Fastball 2008-2013

CC Sabathia is a work horse who is at his strongest and his best in the final months of the season.

Sabathia month by month career numbers

I Split W L W-L% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
  April/March 24 16 .600 4.05 61 61 3 0 387.0 369 188 174 34 135 320 1.302
  May 37 22 .627 3.47 75 75 6 3 505.2 490 210 195 55 135 386 1.236
  June 34 13 .723 3.55 64 64 4 2 420.2 377 186 166 25 119 360 1.179
  July 26 25 .510 4.00 63 63 8 3 411.1 405 208 183 38 149 367 1.347
  August 44 13 .772 3.25 68 68 8 3 476.1 444 183 172 51 117 452 1.178
  Sept/Oct 31 17 .646 2.86 64 64 6 1 443.1 362 156 141 35 130 400 1.110
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 6/2/2013.

After he defeated the Red Sox, this past Friday night, Joe Girardi made the statement that CC is right where he should be for this time of the year and talked about how Sabathia was hitting speeds that he had not reached earlier in the season.

The manager was right in terms of speed, but the significant dropoff should not be minimized.

Let's take a look at Sabathia's fastball over the years

Start of the season to May 31

  • 2008: 1241 total pitches thrown, 735 fastballs 59.2%, avg vel: 93.1 max vel: 96.9, 336 swings - 44 misses, BBA - .340 (!), seven homers, 88-92 mph: 155 fastballs, 93 mph+: 552
  • 2009: 1207 total pitches thrown, 683 fastballs 56.6%, avg vel: 93.9 max vel: 97.3, 319 swings - 37 misses, BBA - .255, two homers, 88-92 mph: 90 fastballs, 93 mph+: 593
  • 2010: 1084 total pitches thrown, 508 fastballs 46.9%, avg vel: 93.1 max vel: 98.3, 193 swings - 26 misses, BBA - .260, two homers, 88-92 mph: 157 fastballs, 93 mph+: 351
  • 2011: 1317 total pitches thrown, 507 fastballs 38.7%, avg vel: 93.0 max vel: 96.1, 225 swings - 30 misses, BBA - .225, three homers, 88-92 mph: 150 fastballs, 93 mph+: 357
  • 2012: 1103 total pitches thrown, 435 fastballs 39.4%, avg vel: 92.3 max vel: 95.5, 204 swings - 20 misses, BBA - .230, two homers, 88-92 mph: 243 fastballs 39.4%, 93 mph+: 191
  • 2013: 1242 total pitches thrown, 521 fastballs 41.9%, avg vel: 90.3 max vel: 93.6, 232 swings - 32 misses, BBA - .292, six homers, 88-92 mph: 506 fastballs 41.9%, 93 mph+: 15 (12 in his start against Boston on 5/31, two in his start against Tampa Bay on 5/26, and one in his start on 4/27 against Toronto)

Numbers to note 

  • In 2008, Sabathia's fastball as being hit successfully, but batters only hit .089 against his cutter. In April that year he was 1-4 with a 7.88 ERA. He finished the season 17-10, going 11-2 for Milwaukee after being acquired from Cleveland on July 7.
  • In 2008, he had 552 pitches of 93+ mph in April and May.
  • 2009 was the last season that Sabathia was a fastball pitcher the majority of the time. While CC throws the fastball more than any other pitcher, it is now around 40% mark most starts of seasons.
  • 2009 was the peak of his throwing fastballs 93+ mph.
  • The drop in 93+ fastballs was precipitous starting in 2012. 

What a difference five years make

Look at the top line to see Sabathia's pitches

2008

2013

As the weather heats up, it will be interesting to see if CC does as well.

However if he doesn't, it will get very ugly very quickly in the Bronx,


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